The Government has put in plans to remove fault from divorce process on a legislative footing by introducing the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill in the House of Commons on Thursday 13th June 2019.
The new law is expected to retain “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage as a sole ground for divorce but replace the requirement to provide evidence of a fact around behaviour or separation with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
The 2 stage process of Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute (being the final Decree) will remain.
There will be the creation of an option of a joint application for divorce for the first time as at the moment only one party can initiate the process. The new bill will also remove the ability to contest the divorce on the basis that there hasn’t been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and petitions can still be challenged on the basis of jurisdiction under the validity of the marriage for coercion or simply a failure to comply to procedural requirements.
What may be surprising to people is that it will introduce a minimum time frame of 6 months from petition to the availability of the final decree. At the moment, we generally advice around 4 months.
The new bill is widely seen as a “ hugely positive step forward”. The reflection period earlier in the divorce process will also allow couples adequate time to seek legal advice and mediation to reduce conflict.
Parallel changes will be made to the law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership.
The Government has made it plain however that the proposed legislation will not affect the law governing financial provision on divorce.
There is no indication yet when the bill will become an act.
If you wish any advice on divorce seek assistance at any of our specialist practitioners at any of our offices at Boston, Sleaford, Lincoln, Grantham , Newark or Spalding.