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An End to the Blame Game in Divorce

View profile for Lucinda McWatt
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‘No blame’ divorce is now to become law making it easier for couples to split.

The Justice Secretary has announced changes to the 50-year-old divorce laws meaning divorcing couples no longer have to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage.

As experienced divorce lawyers we all too often see the impact apportioning blame can have,” said solicitor, Lucinda McWatt.  “Arguments and conflict can have serious long-term effects on children and we welcome any changes in the law to prevent this.”

Currently the law states that unless you have been separated for 2 years with consent, or 5 years without, you have to divorce on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour and in 2016 almost 60% of divorces in England and Wales were granted in this way.

Solicitors have always maintained that having to show fault can increase the conflict between the couple, making it more difficult to sort out child contact, residence and financial arrangements.

Proposals for changes to the law include:                                                                                                     

  • retaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce
  • replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a ‘fact’ around behaviour or separation with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown
  • retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute
  • creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option for one party to initiate the process
  • removing the ability to contest a divorce
  • introducing a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to final divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute).

The new legislation is expected to be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Parallel changes will be made to the law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership which broadly mirrors the legal process for obtaining a divorce.

 

 

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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.