No-fault divorces to wait until 2021

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Separating couples seeking a no-fault divorce will be celebrating the imminent application of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which was finally given royal assent on 25th June.

As divorce lawyers, we have supported the need to change the country’s divorce laws for some time. Barcan+Kirby, along with other leading firms, assisted the University of Exeter in their research which helped lead to this change in law.

What is a no-fault divorce?

The no-fault divorce bill was first promised by the government back in April 2019.

Instead of petitioning for divorce on blame, this new law means that a person seeking a divorce will simply be able to apply, detailing that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Either one or both parties to the marriage can make the application and it must be supported by a statement confirming the marriage has broken down. The Courts will take this statement as fact and proceed with ordering the dissolution of the marriage. This means that divorce on these terms cannot be contested. It will remove any threshold for unreasonable behaviour, adultery or time periods of separation.

The Act will give couples 20 weeks from the date of the start of proceedings to discuss issues such as finances. At the end of this period, a Conditional Order of Divorce will be granted. There is then a six-week period before a Final Order is issued which dissolves the marriage. During this six week period, couples may finalise any financial agreements with the Courts.

The overall aim of the Act is to create a kinder environment for divorce and encourage separation with as little confrontation as possible.

Why do couples have to wait longer for a no-fault divorce?

Even though the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act received royal assent in June, it is likely that it will not be in force until Autumn or late 2021. Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland told MPs that this is because ‘time needs to be allowed for careful implementation’.

Should divorcing couples wait for no-fault divorce?

For divorcing couples, this new legislation will be very welcome. However, it would be unreasonable for those separating to wait another year or so before being able to go down this route.

If couples want to start divorce proceedings, it is always recommended to seek legal advice as early on as possible. You can then decide whether it is appropriate to delay the Court application.

Having a legal advisor not only ensures that the divorce process runs smoothly and is legally enforceable. It also removes some of the strain from an already emotional and stressful situation.

Until the no-fault divorce Act is fully enforced, divorces don’t have to be contentious. Although ‘fault’ does have to be specified, there are various routes separating couples can go down, such as mediation and collaborative law, to keep things amicable. This is particularly important to consider if children are involved involved.

How we can help

Our divorce solicitors advise clients across Bristol and South Gloucestershire on every aspect of divorce. We can help with the legal process of ending your marriage, making a financial settlement and arrangements for children.

To speak to our specialist divorce lawyers, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can make an immediate start and in your own time, by using our simple online tool.


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