A faultless divorce
We have heard a lot in the press about ‘No fault’ divorce and this autumn the new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 is expected to come into force. Here Rachel Spencer Robb of LCF Law looks at the new ruling and what impact it will have on divorcing couples.
What is the current position?
Currently there is only one ground for divorce which is the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of marriage. To show that breakdown, parties must choose one of five available facts. Three of those facts require a period of separation of at least two years up to the date of the divorce petition.
So, if you wanted to divorce sooner than two years, you have to lay blame at the door of your spouse that they have behaved in a way that you find unreasonable or that they have committed adultery (and admit to it).
Such a scenario inevitably leads to a culture of blame that can become toxic with allegations over who is in the wrong flying back and forth. Certainly, having to find a reason to blame the other, does little to help resolve wider issues about children, co-parenting or financial matters.
The results can lead to bad feelings, damaged long-term relationships and escalating costs
How is the new law different?
The new law does not require a party to rely on a blame. The filing of a statement at Court will be conclusive evidence. An application for a divorce order can be by one party or on the joint application of the parties.
The two stages of divorce remain. The Conditional Order (formerly Decree Nisi) at least 20 weeks after the date on which the Divorce Application was made and the Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute) six weeks after the Conditional Order. The minimum timescale for divorce is around 26 weeks.
So, the divorce ‘blame’ game will be a thing of the past and people will not be punished for the breakdown in relationships. It is hoped that by removing blame it will avoid unnecessary conflict to enable spouses to resolve matters, reduce acrimony (and legal fees as a result) and move on with their lives.