The end of fault-based divorce is in sight.

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Michelle Bowyer, Associate Solicitor – Family Team

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received Royal assent on 26th June 2020, and is due to be implemented on 6th April 2022.

As a Resolution accredited specialist, I actively participated in the campaign for this change in law, and I have previously blogged about the detrimental impact on parties having to place blame upon their spouse before they can dissolve their marriage.  This can impact on both the parties, and their children as the “mud-slinging” can cut deep and result in irreparable rifts.

Removing blame will help parents to avoid unnecessary acrimony at a time when they will also be considering future care arrangements for their children. It will also make it more likely that the parties will be able to resolve the associated financial aspects of their divorce on an amicable basis.

The current requirement to establish fault or to establish a period of separation will be replaced with the option of one spouse or the couple making a statement of irretrievable breakdown and will dispense with the need for one party to place blame on the other for the breakdown of the marriage.

The new law will require couples to wait a minimum of 6 months from date of application to date of divorce.  This timeframe is intended to allow parties to reflect and turn back, if that is their wish, or, if a reconciliation is not desirable, the time can be used to negotiate division of assets and/or discuss how best to share care of their children.

Until implementation of the new Act, if parties have not been living apart or neither has committed adultery (or is willing to admit to doing so), citing allegations of behaviour remains the only way to satisfy the court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.  Irretrievable breakdown will remain the only ground for divorce but with parties having the option to file a statement of irrevocable breakdown, as opposed to proving it by behaviour, adultery, or physical separation.

Clients may wish to wait until the law change or, depending on their personal circumstances, they may consider it intolerable to do so. The family law team at Bevirs can assist you in considering all options together with the consequences of divorce, such as the division of assets and making arrangements for the care of your children.

By Michelle Bowyer, Associate Solicitor – Family Team