Family Law


7 JAN 2022

On the 6th April 2022 a new law is due to come into effect which will remove the need for divorcing couples to apportion blame in order to obtain a divorce.

The current position is that in order to obtain a divorce you must use one of five reasons to prove to the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. The five facts that may be stated are unreasonable behaviour, adultery, five years separation, two years separation with consent or desertion.

Therefore, most couples who agree that a marriage is over and that they wish to start a divorce, must either wait two years so that they can agree a separation with consent, or blame one of the parties either for behaving so unreasonably that they can no longer remain married, or for committing adultery.

In reality a lot of couples do agree that a marriage is over and wish to begin divorce proceedings before two years separation has passed. BBP Solicitors, along with other Resolution accredited solicitors, have sought to lessen the impact of this requirement to blame one party to the marriage by seeking to agree the terms that are stated in that Divorce Petition wherever possible.

In practical terms, however, the fact that one party to a marriage needs to set out reasons as to why the other has behaved unreasonably in order to obtain a divorce necessarily has an impact on the willingness of both parties to discuss and agree the further issues that arise from a relationship breakdown. In particular by laying the blame at one partyโ€™s door further conversations in relation to arrangements for children and how the finances can be divided can be tainted by this initial statement that someone was at fault.

By removing that element of fault, and allowing a divorce application to be made merely on the basis that the marriage has ended, dealing with the other aspects of a separation can become the focus of discussion and if necessary with solicitor assistance. The new law should avoid time and expense in attempting to agree a Divorce Petition which contains enough information to allow a divorce to be approved, and reduce emotional distress.

Additionally, the new divorce law will enable a joint application to be made. So rather than one party having to bear all costs and the additional steps to start the divorce proceedings, both parties to the marriage can agree the marriage is over and make a joint application for a divorce.

It is hoped that this important change to the divorce law will help to remove some of the complexity and legal jargon surrounding divorce proceedings.

At Baines Bagguley Penhale we have always focused on assisting our clients to address the issues that arise when a relationship comes to an end in an amicable and constructive way wherever possible. Hopefully, the new law will make this easier for everyone involved in a breakdown in their relationship.

For advice in relation to commencing divorce proceedings or any other issue that arises out of separation please contact us on 01524 401010.

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