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A welcome change to divorce proceeding

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The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill made its way through the final stage of parliament last week. On the 17th June the Bill was passed in the House of Commons following its third reading.

The changes to be implemented by the Bill have long been campaigned for by family lawyers and will be the biggest change to divorce laws in more than 50 years.

Under the current system parties wishing to proceed with a divorce within the first two years following their separation are required to rely on the 'fact' of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This requires one party to assign blame to the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Not only does this requirement create unnecessary animosity between former spouses but can also impact on the relationship with and arrangements for any children of the marriage.

The reformed divorce laws aim to remove the need to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage and promote an amicable separation. The parties will only need to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, a requirement that is also present in the current system, however, no reasons for this breakdown in the relationship will be required to be disclosed to the courts. The Bill has gone further in the quest for an amicable divorce and proposes the option for parties to make a joint application where the separation is a mutual decision.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill also removes the option to contest the divorce except in certain circumstances such as coercion and fraud and also updates some of the current terminology, replacing 'Decree Nisi' and 'Decree Absolute' with 'Conditional Order' and 'Final Order'.

Progression of the Bill has been met with delays with the Prorogation of Parliament in September last year and the general election in December, however, once the Bill receives royal assent it is hoped that the no-fault divorces will start to take place in 2021.

For further information on any family law issues or you would like information regarding divorce or separation, please contact one of our specialist family lawyers at your nearest local office.

Our office numbers are:

Boston             01205 351114   

Bourne            01778 218001

Grantham        01476 591550

Horncastle       01507 522456

Lincoln             01522 541181

Newark            01636 673731

Sleaford          01529 411500

Spalding          01775 725664