Family Law Blog
During 2022, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into force and it completely reformed the way in which couples can obtain a divorce.
Prior to the new legislation being introduced, the divorce petition needed to be issued on the grounds that the marriage had broken down irretrievably and one party had to take the blame. Going through a breakdown of a relationship is stressful enough, with plenty of tension, anxiety and sometimes animosity involved, which will only be increased with the requirement to have blame.
The new legislation removes the need of evidence to blame one party, though maintaining the principle that the only grounds for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This is often referred to as the ‘no fault’ divorce process. The reform is designed to relieve some of the stresses that will be faced by couples, and in turn, the children of the family. With one party taking the blame, the resulting animosity and tension caused problems in negotiations regarding the division of assets and arrangements for children. The introduction of the new legislation should therefore make the resolution of these types of issues much less problematic.
The following key changes were introduced when the Act came into force:
- No fault divorce – irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is still required, but the need to apportion blame is removed. Replacing this will be a ‘Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown’, which allows couples to separate amicably, instead of putting the blame on one or the other.
- Joint applications – despite individuals being able to apply on their own, the new law allows couples the opportunity to make a joint application, providing that they have both agreed that the relationship has broken down irreversibly.
- Removal of ‘defended divorce’ – individuals can no longer defend divorce proceedings issued against them, Instead they can ‘dispute’ the divorce under very limited grounds.
- Terminology – the ‘petitioner’ is now called the ‘applicant’, the ‘Decree Nisi’ is now called the ‘Conditional Order’ and the ‘Decree Absolute’ is now called the ‘Final Order’.
- Period of Reflection – the new legislation introduces a period of twenty weeks from the start of proceedings before the applicant can apply for a Conditional Order. This period of meaningful reflection is designed to allow the parties to attempt reconciliation where appropriate, or to resolve matters relating to children or finances. The six weeks from the making of the ‘Conditional Order’ to the making of the ‘Final Order has still been maintained. Therefore, even the smoothest of divorces will take at least seven months to complete.
Despite the introduction of the new legislation, Martin Kaye Solicitors advise that you seek expert legal advice before taking any action. The procedure of divorce may be relatively straightforward, but the divorce process does not address financial issues, or any matters regarding children; both of which require careful consideration. At Martin Kaye Solicitors, our helpful, friendly, and experienced team are here to help you decide on the best possible solution. We have specialist expertise in dealing with the complexities of the division of assets after a relationship has broken down. As well as being experts in the legalities of divorce, we have vast experience in cohabitation agreements, unmarried relationship breakdown, child disputes, financial disputes, and domestic violence. It is our approach to explore all avenues to resolve disputes quickly, amicably and cost-effectively. Our team is experienced in all aspects of matrimonial and family law, and we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to find the best possible outcomes for our clients and their families.
You are able to speak to our Family team at Martin Kaye Solicitors by calling 01952 272222 or emailing email@example.com.