No fault divorce. What do the changes mean?

No fault divorce. What do the changes mean?

In April 2019, the Government announced that they would be ending "the blame game" to turn no-fault divorce from a concept to a reality. The current legal system forces couples to apportion blame in the breakdown of their marriage, even when no one is at fault, or wait a minimum period of at least 2 years before they could divorce one another with consent.

To help you understand your options we look at what these changes mean for the divorce process in our top 6 question and answer.

Q1. What is the current process for divorcing or ending a civil partnership in England and Wales?

A. To start a divorce/dissolution you must file paperwork at Court. The first step is to file the petition. There is only 1 ground for divorce/dissolution and that is that the marriage/CP has broken down irretrievably. This can be shown through one of five facts - 3 of which involve a period of separation.

The additional two factors are adultery or "unreasonable behaviour". Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly cited factor for the marriage breaking down, requiring the petitioner to list numerous examples of this behaviour.

Due to the nature of these facts, some form of blame is apportioned to obtain an immediate divorce which can create animosity.

Q2. How is the law set to change regarding no-fault divorce?

A. The suggested new framework will allow couples to jointly apply for a divorce - encouraging collaboration in the process, rather than pitting one party against the other. Parties will no longer be required to apportion any level of blame.

The government has suggested a minimum period of 6 months between the first and last stage of the divorce to allow couples enough time to reflect on their decision.

Q3. How will the new law impact the family law landscape?

A. The new law will bring divorce law in line with other areas and principles of family law such as the encouragement of dispute resolution.

Q4. How will the change in law affect clients and the whole process of divorce?

A. It is hoped that the introduction of no fault divorce will reduce the bitterness between parties previously associated with apportioning blame in the divorce/dissolution, meaning more amicable settlements and positive outcomes for the couple, especially when children are involved.

Q5. Will people currently going through a divorce be impacted by the change in law?

A. It is unclear when the new law will come into effect. The government is suggesting that it will come into effect as soon as possible, however, this is subject to parliamentary time and at the moment this is being taken up with discussions surrounding brexit.

Q6. How can a solicitor help you know where you stand if your relationship breaks down?

A. A solicitor can provide you with impartial legal advice about your position, your options and the legal processes that can formally end your relationship. They can also provide you with support throughout the process.

Clapham & Collinge family law advice is bespoke, confidential and totally designed around you, to find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail call our specialist Family Law Solicitors on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.

*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.