Divorce is always going to be a hard thing to go through, whether you’re one half of the unhappy couple, a child of divorce or a close friend caught in the crossfire. It can be a hugely emotional time and often it’s made worse by the ensuing legal battles concerning property and custody of kids.
But, for once, there is some good news for divorce.
At the moment, one spouse has to make accusations about the other’s behaviour, such as being abusive, committing adultery, or otherwise face years of mere separation before a divorce can be official granted – regardless of whether a couple has made a mutual decision to separate permanently.
A new Bill brought forward:
A Bill known as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, has been brought to Parliament this week which aims to eradicate these ‘blame games’ that so often occur during divorce proceedings. This is to reduce the level of stress and conflict within the affected families.
The new Bill will achieve this by allowing one spouse – or the couple jointly – to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown. It will also stop one partner contesting a divorce if the other wants one – which in some cases has allowed domestic abusers to exercise further coercive control over their victim.
Some of you may remember this Bill being announced back in June 2019, but it has only officially been brought to Parliament following the latest General Election.
Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said:
“The institution of marriage will always be vitally important, but we must never allow a situation where our laws exacerbate conflict and harm a child’s upbringing.
Our reforms will stop divorcing couples having to make unnecessary allegations against one another and instead help them focus on separating amicably.
By sparing individuals the need to play the blame game, we are stripping out the needless antagonism this creates so families can better move on with their lives.”
Main properties of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill:
- Replace the current requirement to evidence either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (couples can opt to make this a joint statement).
- Remove the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce, as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
- Introduces a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to confirmation to the court that a conditional order of divorce may be made, allowing greater opportunity for couples to agree practical arrangements for the future where reconciliation is not possible and divorce is inevitable.
A positive step
This Bill is a step towards a more harmonious path to family justice – avoiding confrontation wherever possible and reducing its damaging effect on children in particular.
Crucially, it will also introduce a 20-week period between the initial petition stage and when the court grants the provisional decree of divorce. This will provide a meaningful period of reflection and a chance for the couple to change their minds, or where divorce is inevitable, it will provide a decent amount of time for them to make plans for dealing with the divorce in the future, and make appropriate arrangements.
If you have questions about divorce or any other type of legal enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7928 0276 or email into firstname.lastname@example.org.