John Howe

Member Article

Major changes to divorce laws imminent

John Howe & Co, the West Yorkshire-based law firm, is warning that a major overhaul to divorce laws, which have been in place nearly 50 years, is on the horizon.

For almost five decades, although divorce was based on the sole ground of irretrievable breakdown, a couple wanting to end their marriage has had to rely on some sort of fault to allow a divorce to be granted.

Under this regime, the party who started the proceedings had to allege that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by establishing one of five facts:

Adultery

Unreasonable behaviour

Two years of separation with consent

Desertion

Five years of separation – with no consent required

A new act is due to come into effect on April 6, 2022, under which one spouse, or the couple jointly, will be able to make a statement of breakdown. The five facts will be removed with it no longer being necessary to provide allegations of conduct or separation to prove irretrievable collapse of the marriage.

The act also will introduce a 20-week period between the initial petition and when the court grants the decree of divorce, known as the decree nisi.

John Howe, of the Pudsey-based law firm, said: “The thinking behind the change is to remove the ‘blame game’, which is widely acknowledged to have a significant negative impact on a couple and any children.

“It will be known as a ‘no fault’ divorce with it also being possible to make the application online.

“The Government’s intention is that the 20-week period will provide a meaningful time for reflection and the chance to turn back, or, where divorce is inevitable, better enable couples to co-operate and make arrangements for the future.”

He added: “The implementation date for the Act has been put back a couple of times so it is fair to say that April 6 is not written in stone. Therefore, anyone considering divorce proceedings in the next few months may wish to take specialist advice to ensure they are fully aware of the new rules.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Natalie Witterick .

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