No Fault Divorce
There has been a lot of publicity recently about the Government’s intention to introduce what is known as “no fault divorce”. This is a very welcome change. However, it is not yet with us – it is still reliant upon the Government introducing it through Parliament when Parliamentary time allows! We won’t mention Brexit! Nevertheless, it does have cross-party support and therefore is very likely to be introduced.
Up until now to obtain a divorce – if not relying on one of the separation clauses – it has been something of a blame game. This often affects the relationship between the parties themselves and can also damage attempts to reach a resolution about other issues. The aim of a no fault divorce will be to shift the emphasis from blame to that of support so that parties can concentrate on the very important issues relating to children (if relevant) and finances.
Important features of a no fault divorce:
- It will remain the case that irretrievable breakdown is the sole ground.
- However, there will be no requirement to blame anyone. Many Petitions in the past have had to dig up so-called unreasonable behaviour or possibly adultery.
- Very importantly – there will be no ability to contest or defend the divorce proceedings.
- There is the opportunity/option of a joint Application for Divorce although one or other party could still initiate the process.
- There will still be a Decree Nisi and ultimately a Decree Absolute and there will be a minimum timeframe of 6 months from the issuing of the Petition to a Decree Absolute i.e. minimum 20 weeks from Petition to Decree Nisi and then another 6 weeks and 1 day before being able to apply for the Absolute.
What does this mean in practice?
Whether or not it will, in practice, actually reduce the timeframe to anywhere near 6 months is debatable. Ministry of Justice current reforms which were supposed to streamline/cut down the time it takes to get a divorce has actually extended the average time by 3 weeks (from 49 weeks to 52 weeks or thereabouts!).
Nevertheless, we do actually foresee a reduction in the time taken and we would be estimating up to 9 months for the whole process to be completed unless children/financial issues are quite complex. So it might be that by the end of this year we may have our no fault divorce law.
However, there may be circumstances now where it would be appropriate to consider divorce proceedings (even under the current law) sooner rather than later. We are here to help guide and advise you with our divorce and separation legal advice.
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Just a short note to once again express my sincere thanks to you, Sue and the M&U team, for all your help, cooperation and first class professional support. I am most grateful to you all.Chris Stephenson, Warminster