New Divorce Ruling Comes Into Effect For Couples In England And Wales Tomorrow
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A new divorce ruling coming into effect this week means couples in England and Wales will no longer need to place blame in order to end their marriage.
Set to come into force tomorrow (6 April), the so-called 'no-fault divorce' ruling has been described by the government as 'the biggest shake-up of divorce law for 50 years'.
Prior to the introduction of the law, any couples in marriages or civil partnerships in England and Wales looking to get a divorce must either have been separated for at least two years, or five if one member of the couple does not consent, or list a reason for divorce which relates to the behaviour of one of the parties.
As a result, couples would have to come up with a reason for their divorce even if the marriage ended amicably.
'Grounds for divorce', aka possible reasons, included adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion, as well as separation for the aforementioned time periods.
The new law will change that, meaning couples will not have to place blame in order to move ahead with a legal split. Instead, either one spouse or the couple together will be able to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown in order to get a divorce.
As well as removing the need for a reason, the new rule also prevents one partner from contesting a divorce.
The government has said the bill 'will bring divorce law in line with the government’s approach to family justice – avoiding confrontation wherever possible and reducing its damaging effect on children in particular'.
“We are delighted that the divorce system – unchanged for more than 50 years – will finally be modernised to reflect the society we live in”@LawSocPresident I. Stephanie Boyce tells @MSN_Money as #NoFaultDivorce comes into force on 6 April 2022 https://t.co/QE1ZQ0GaiC pic.twitter.com/6PiZXrBKCW— The Law Society (@TheLawSociety) March 10, 2022
The move has been welcomed by the Law Society, which claimed the no-fault divorce law will 'reduce conflict, allowing couples to focus on important issues like children, property and finances'.
Lawyers have predicted a surge in applications for divorce in the wake of the law, with Jo Edwards, the head of family law at Forsters, pointing out that other countries who have moved to a no-fault system have seen a 'spike when the new law comes in'.
Edwards told The Guardian: "My experience and the experience of loads of practitioners I’ve spoken to is that once we’ve said to people, certainly over the last three or four months and in some instances earlier than that, that there was this new law coming in – because we’ve known for a few months it will be 6 April – generally the preference has been to wait for the no-fault based system."
Couples looking to file for divorce will also be able to make a joint application under the new law.