Autumn 2021 sees the introduction of the new ‘No-fault Divorce’

After years of campaigning this divorce reform is, at long last, on its way for married couples in England and Wales. It is generally accepted that no-fault divorces better reflect today’s modern relationships.

Back in June 2020 The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill gained Royal assent putting an end to the many years of campaigning that have gone before to finally remove the need to blame one of the parties when seeking to divorce, putting an end to the damage that blame causes for separating couples. This is the biggest reform in divorce law for 50 years.

Aidan Jones OBE, Chief Executive at relationship support charity, Relate said:

“This much-needed change to the law is good news for divorcing couples and particularly for any children involved. The outdated fault-based divorce system led parting couples to apportion blame, often resulting in increased animosity and making it harder for ex-partners to develop positive relationships as co-parents.”

So what does this mean for couples who are currently considering divorce now and who may go through the new no-fault divorce process? Sheryl Perry Solicitors would like add a little clarity on things that could affect you and your family:

DOES NO-FAULT AFFECT MY FINANCES? It is a common misconception that being at ‘fault’ in divorce proceedings will impact any financial award. This is simply not true and any ‘bad behaviour’ is rarely taken into consideration when a financial settlement is being calculated. Unfortunately, the wronged party will often try to secure a larger financial settlement as recompense for the wrong-doing they have suffered but this is simply a natural human reaction, not something that is legally upheld. In the eyes of the court, needing or wanting to blame the other person creates an unnecessary distraction for many and the focus should be on finding a quick and painless resolution.

CAN I PROTECT MY CHILDREN? Unfortunately and rather heartbreakingly, some parents do use their children as pawns against the other parent as the resentment spills over. Whether it be deliberately restricting access or making negative comments thinking it will help them in a court hearing, the new ‘no-fault divorce’ will hopefully minimise any possibility of playing the blame game and using kids as collateral with the other parent and put a positive focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on the past. 

CAN WE BOTH APPLY? In a far more civilised fashion, the new divorce reform means that both of you can apply jointly to divorce – it no longer has to be one person filing a petition against the other citing adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

DOES THIS MEAN MORE DIVORCES? Other countries such as Malta, China, Canada and Australia have already gone through this reform and whilst it showed a small increase initially, there has been a reduction in divorce cases as couples were prepared to wait for the new ‘no-fault divorce’ rather than lay blame, opting for a more amicable way forward.

CAN I GET A QUICK &EASY DIVORCE? Just because you no longer have to cite a reason for divorce or lay blame at the feet of your spouse, this doesn’t mean that the divorce process has been made conveniently quicker. However, it does mean that if you are both agreeable, and can demonstrate an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, you would no longer need to wait 2-5 years as before, and could get your final divorce order within 6 months. 

IS IT CHEAPER TO DIVORCE? This reform will not make divorce any less painful or contentious. Hopefully, clients will see a reduction in legal fees with the absence of any backwards and forwards mud-slinging and more constructive discussions in its place. With any luck, faster resolution will lead to reduced fees, but it isn’t guaranteed.

SHOULD I WAIT FOR THE REFORM? If you are considering divorce now then waiting for the reform to kick in will eradicate the need to attribute blame for your marriage breakdown. Each case is completely individual, but it could reduce animosity and make arrangements for any dependent children and financial settlements easier to agree on.

We hope that this may have answered any questions you have if you are considering divorce or just starting proceedings. We are always here to help make difficult situations as painless as possible and you are welcome to arrange a FREE informal consultation with Sheryl Perry, our divorce expert.

Contact us today and make an appointment on 01245 463243 or email sheryl.perry@sherylperrysolicitors.uk

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