Family lawyers and others have been campaigning for decades for the introduction of a ‘no-fault’ option to be available to people wanting a divorce – an option that is now set to take effect from April this year.
Until now, if couples wanted to divorce without apportioning blame, they had to be separated for at least two years. This meant they could not fully disentangle their finances, re-marry or make a fresh start. As a result, their lives were left effectively in limbo.
No-fault divorce is set to remove this obstacle, which has frequently been blamed for forcing couples to play the blame game and creating unnecessary conflict between divorcing spouses.
Instead, couples will simply be able to apply for a divorce, either individual or jointly. It will also no longer be possible to contest a divorce. Instead, it will be sufficient for one party to the marriage to declare that it has broken down irretrievably.
At the same time, the language used on official documents and in the courtroom will be changed to remove both outdated terms and those that have baggage associated with conflict. An example of the latter is ‘petitioner’, which will become ‘applicant’.
There will also be more general changes to the process, once again designed to lessen the chances of unnecessary conflict as well as ones intended as a safeguard against people divorcing too quickly. These include the introduction of a 20-week minimum period from the start of proceedings to the issue of a Conditional Order (currently known as a ‘Decree Nisi’).
If you are considering divorce, whether now or when the new rules are introduced in April, contact us today for advice.