Posted: 20.09.21 at 07:00 by Thatcher + Hallam
Family Lawyers have expressed widespread support for the proposed change in divorce laws, which will allow a marriage to be brought to an end without either husband or wife having to allege “fault” on the part of the other.
The changes, due to come into force in April 2022, will mean that one spouse, or a couple jointly, can file a statement confirming that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and the Court will then, and without further evidence, make a divorce order.
Hayley Veale, Head of Family Law at Thatcher + Hallam, is one of many Family Law Practitioners who have been campaigning for the changes for many years. “The current laws have been in force for almost 50 years” said Hayley, “and in my experience have often done more harm than good.”
“If a marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down, then it is quite wrong to require one party to have to prove this to be the case by alleging serious and unreasonable conduct on the part of the other, or to force a couple to stay in a loveless relationship for up to five years before they can officially divorce and move on with their lives.”
The new rules will prevent one spouse objecting to a divorce if the other wants one, since the initial statement that the marriage has broken down will be regarded as conclusive evidence. After a minimum period of 20 weeks the Court will make a Conditional Divorce Order (currently known as Decree Nisi) and thereafter a Final Divorce Order (currently known as Decree Absolute).
“In practice the new laws will not change the Court’s approach to financial issues or child arrangements,” said Hayley, “But a great deal of upset and hurt will be removed from the process and will allow couples to make practical decisions without one or the other feeling that they were found to be responsible for the breakdown.”
So should individuals or couples who feel that their relationship is over wait until next year before starting formalities?
“It depends on the individual circumstances,” added Hayley. “If there are clear and obvious grounds for beginning the dissolution procedure now, and no disadvantage to using the current “fault based” laws, then there is little purpose in delaying. But there may well be advantages to delaying, enabling couples to discuss and hopefully agree financial and child related issues in the knowledge that their relationship will be formally brought to an end in a civilised and blame free manner. As ever it is worth taking expert advice on this issue.”
For more information on how Hayley and the team at Thatcher + Hallam can support you in circumstances where you are considering a divorce, please visit the Thatcher and Hallam site or call 01761 414646.
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