No-fault divorce is set to become a reality after the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020.
First introduced in June 2019 after a public consultation, the Bill was brought before parliament again following the General Election.
The Law Society has said no-fault divorce will bring divorce law into the 21st century, with changes to take effect in Autumn of 2021 following an implementation period. Family lawyers and members of the general public alike are delighted to see the Bill reach the end of its parliamentary journey.
The biggest change to divorce law for some years now means separating couples will be spared having to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage in order to be granted a divorce. Currently, a divorce will only be granted on the basis of one party’s conduct or following a lengthy period of separation.
The new law seeks to align the divorce process with the government’s approach elsewhere in family law, encouraging a non-confrontational approach wherever possible; thereby reducing conflict and limiting the adverse effect of confrontation upon the parties and any children of the family.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 provides that a divorce will continue to be applied for on the existing basis of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Specifically, however, the Act will:
Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP have said: ‘These new laws will stop separating couples having to make needless allegations against one another, and instead help them focus on resolving their issues amicably.’
The end result, after many years of campaigning, is that family lawyers will better be able to support the 100,000 or so couples who divorce each year to resolve matters as constructively and amicably as possible, whilst also minimising the impact of conflict, blame and fault between divorcing couples on any children of the marriage.
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