We take a look at how the divorce process is changing this year with new updated laws which come into effect on 6 April.
In recent years the process of obtaining a divorce has changed from an old fashioned system reliant on paper documents being filed at your local court to a vastly improved electronic process that had instead been centralised at a number of courts focused on delivering divorces more efficiently.
However, the law of divorce has not changed since 1973. Under the current law those couples who have not been separated for two years or more have no choice but to blame or criticise the other in order to obtain a divorce. This has often led to unnecessary tension and antagonism. Fortunately, the law of divorce is changing.
The new law will come into effect on 6 April 2022. Whilst the marriage will still be dissolved on the basis that it has irretrievably broken down neither spouse will have to blame the other or give examples of what has led to the failure of the marriage. This will be entirely positive and should minimise unnecessary antagonism and friction. Hopefully, this should ensure that the spouses are able to focus on key issues such as the care of the children or any financial settlement but without the emotion of a fault based divorce undermining that process.
Under the new law it will also be possible for divorce to be applied for jointly. This will be an alternative to either spouse bringing the divorce against the other. Helpfully, the old fashioned language from 1973 will be replaced with more modern and comprehensible language. In the future a spouse will apply for a ‘Divorce Order’ as opposed to a ‘Divorce Petition.’ The divorce process itself will still involve two stages, with a conditional order being made initially and then a final order at the conclusion of the process.
The new divorce process will not, however, be a quick one as ordinarily it will include a minimum period of 20 weeks from the initial application before the conditional order can be applied for. This is to give the spouses time to reflect on this important decision.
It is advisable to contact a matrimonial solicitor as early on in your legal process as possible. If you are unsure about your situation, it is best to seek expert legal guidance so you know how to take the next step.