A new law is always intriguing, but a new law regarding divorces is much more. It is personal to the individuals involved and it’s the biggest change we have seen in 50 years. So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, what does this ‘new law’ mean for those in the midst of a divorce or those ready to go down that road?
On the 6 April 2022, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (“DDSA”) introduced no-fault divorce, which states that ‘Married and Civil Partnership couples can obtain a divorce without having to blame the other party’.
Before now, married couples who are looking to divorce would need to prove to the court that there was evidence of:
2. Unreasonable behaviour
3. Desertion by one party
4. Two years separation with the consent of spouse; or five years without consent.
The above facts are the same for a civil partnership except for adultery.
Now, with the DDSA in force, none of the above is a relevant argument in court. The aim is to avoid confrontation and an attempt to avoid any damaging affects the process may have on any children involved. The act will disregard the need to ‘blame’ one party for the breakdown of the marriage as well as one spouse contesting the divorce. The DDSA now enforces the following:
1. If a wife wishes to divorce her husband, she can do so even if he objects and vice versa;
2. The wife does not need to apportion blame. This applies equally to the husband if he is the spouse filing for divorce.
3. If a civil partner claims the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the marriage can be dissolved, without the consent or blame of the other person involved.
The ‘cooling-off period’ has now been increased from 6 weeks and 1 day to 20 weeks. This allows both parties to proceed with any practical arrangements that are in place surrounding the separation.
In a nutshell, individuals filing for divorce do not need to provide evidence to blame the spouse nor do they require consent from the spouse to proceed with the divorce. By removing the need to blame one party, it is intended that the new Divorce Act will decrease confrontation, reduce any damage caused to children involved and allow a more combined approach between both the couple and the solicitors involved.
If you are on the pathway to a divorce and require some professional legal advice, we can help you.