The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons on 8 June 2020. The bill will introduce significant change in the process of obtaining a divorce throughout England and Wales, including the long-awaited introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce for couples who have not yet been separated for periods in excess of 2 or 5 years.
The bill has already passed all stages in the House of Lords. Following its third reading in the House of Commons later this month, the bill requires only Royal Assent to be enacted and become a new law. Together with ‘no-fault’ divorce, the bill will also introduce the following: –
- It will remove the requirement to provide evidence of conduct or separation and replace it with a new requirement to provide a statement that the marriage has reached a point of irretrievable breakdown;
- It will remove the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce, as the statement of irretrievable breakdown would be taken as conclusive evidence that the marriage is over;
- There will be a new option for a couple to apply for a divorce, rather than just one of them submitting the application;
- There will be a minimum overall timeframe of six months for the divorce process, although this timescale may change in the future.
These coming changes are long overdue. They should make the process of divorce less confrontational and far more ‘user-friendly’ in comparison to the antiquated laws that we have in place at present. It is hoped that by removing the ‘blame game’ from a divorce, couples will find it easier to reach amicable arrangements over financial issues or where their children should live.
As with any new legislation, the impact of the bill can only be accurately measured after a period of time. However, in the difficult circumstances that confront us all at present, the bill is undoubtedly viewed as a potentially positive change.
If you are contemplating divorce or separation at present, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Stuart on 01254 778148.