No Fault Divorce Update
Ministers have announced this month that the long-awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force on 6 April 2022. This Act will allow married couples to divorce without the need to place blame on anyone for the breakdown of the marriage, which will be a welcome change to the current law.
At present, the law in England and Wales works on a ‘fault-based’ system, meaning that essentially one person must be ‘to blame’ for the marriage ending. After two years have elapsed since separation, one person is able to petition on the basis of ‘two-years separation with consent’ but this not only requires the consent of the other person, but also requires the couple to wait a long period of time before matters can be dealt with. This is particularly unhelpful for clients who want to resolve any financial claims.
Financial claims can’t be dealt with by the Court until the divorce process is started. Any agreement reached between parties that is not approved by a Court Order, is not legally binding, meaning it is open to either party to breach the terms of any agreement, without consequence or change their minds in the future. This can be particularly difficult for clients who have properties, pensions and other assets that need to be divided when they want to move on with their lives.
Whilst at Wolferstans we welcome the introduction of the new law, we understand that this is still a further 10 months for our clients to wait to even begin their divorce process. Due to new advances within the Court systems, we are now able to process divorces electronically, meaning the process is far quicker than previously when it was dealt with by paper in the Courts. Consequently, by the time a client waits for the introduction of the new law next April their divorce could already be finalised if we start the process now.
At Wolferstans, we are keen to make the divorce process as amicable as possible and we work with our clients to ensure that petitions are drafted in the least inflammatory way, to avoid unnecessary conflict and upset. If you need advice in relation to a divorce, our team of family law experts can discuss your options with you.