The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has received Royal Assent but this has not yet come into force.
This is mainly due to the changes which need to take place such as, court forms being updated. It is however rumoured that the new law will come into force in autumn next year.
At this moment in time you will still need to commence divorce/ dissolution proceedings under the current law. It may be wise to arrange a consultation with a solicitor to understand the best way forward for you. We can offer you a free initial consultation to discuss your options.
The new law will reform the divorce process to remove the concept of "fault". So, what do the new changes mean?
The new Bill will:
- replace the ‘five facts’ with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown – Instead of using the five facts to support an application, the statement is required to detail the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. No further evidence will be necessary to prove that the relationship has ended
- remove the possibility of contesting the divorce – The court will take the statement of one or both parties as conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down. This is important for victims of domestic abuse, whose partner may contest a petition in order to exert coercive control
- introduce an option for a joint application – this will allow both parties to apply together
- make sure language is in plain English, for example, terms such as “decree nisi”, “decree absolute” and “petitioner” will be replaced with more modern terms, including “conditional order”, “final order” and “applicant”. This is to make the legislation more accessible and easier to understand by the wider public
- introduce a minimum wait period of twenty weeks between the start of the proceedings and the conditional order (the decree nisi) – This will allow for a period of reflection, giving couples the opportunity to reconcile, seek mediation or counselling services. If separation is inevitable, this period will be useful to discuss important matters such as finances or child arrangements. The period of six weeks and one day between the conditional order and final order (the decree absolute) will be retained. In theory, this means that the entire divorce process should take no longer than six months
Parallel changes will also be made to the law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership.
I have covered in one of my previous blogs the DIY divorce process and the importance of seeking legal advice in regard to financial matters on divorce.
Whilst the new legislation will make it easier for you and your partner to start divorce proceedings, the financial aspect of a divorce/ dissolution remains paramount to be resolved. You may also have issues in relation to the arrangements for your children, in relation to which we can provide expert advice and guidance, and this is best done at an early stage.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.