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What new divorce laws are coming to the UK?

Early in 2019, it was announced that the process of applying for a divorce in the UK would be changing. It’s not yet known when these changes will come into effect, but they will represent the biggest changes to divorce law since the Matrimonial Clauses Act of 1973. You can find a summary of the most significant changes that are expected below:

The accepted reasons for divorce will change

Currently, anyone looking to end their marriage must rely on one of five legally acceptable reasons for a divorce. Following the expected changes having come into effect, the only ground will be the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. It is anticipated that, following the law having changed, this reason alone will need to be cited and no specifics as to why the marriage has broken down will need to be provided.

Blame will be removed from the divorce process

Of the five grounds for divorce that can currently be cited, three – adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion – require blame to be apportioned to one party. This is frequently a cause of conflict which can cause dispute long after a divorce has been granted. These grounds are to be removed and replaced with one single ground: the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

By removing these grounds and reducing the amount of detail needed within divorce applications, the government will be removing blame from the divorce process in its entirety.

The divorce process will take at least six months

It is widely anticipated that new any new legislation concerning divorce law in the UK will introduce a mandatory waiting period of six months to proceedings meaning that the divorce process will take at least six months.

According to reports, this waiting period is to be introduced to allow couples time to reflect and reconsider whether they want their marriage to end.

Contesting a divorce will be harder

Currently, a divorce can be contested for any reason. When new laws come into effect, however, it’s reported that this will no longer be the case.

Instead, it will only be possible to contest divorces under specific circumstances. It has not yet been reported when it will be possible for someone to contest a divorce, though we’d anticipate it will only be possible when granting a divorce would leave one party significantly disadvantaged such as if they would be left without a home/accommodation.

The divorce process should be easier

Currently, following a spouse having filed for divorce, the court send their husband or wife (known as the Respondent) documents and requests that they complete and return them. If the Respondent does not do this, the divorce process is made more complicated. In fact, in many instances, it will be unable to proceed at all.

It’s believed that this will change and that it’ll be easier to become divorced without both spouse’s agreeing, though the precise details of how this process will change are yet to be announced.

Joint divorce applications will be introduced

This hasn’t been confirmed but several reports have suggested that joint divorce applications will be possible following the law having changed.

If it were to come into force, such a change would make the divorce process significantly easier as both spouses would effectively be providing their consent at the point of application.

Will new divorce laws be in place before the end of 2019?

Whilst we can’t say for certain, it looks unlikely.

David Gauke, the UK’s current justice secreary, has stated that the relevant legislation will be discussed in parliament as soon as time becomes available. As the rather pressing issue of Brexit will almost certainly take up too much time for this to take place before the end of the year, however, we’d expect the changes to come into effect in 2020.

What will change at Quickie Divorce?

As ever, we’ll be preparing the documents needed to obtain a divorce for our clients and will ensure they’re prepared to the highest standard. We also have a good relationship with the courts and will ensure that we’re fully equipped and clued-up on the new divorce process before it comes into effect.

In short, for our clients, it’ll be business as usual.

Can I get a no-fault divorce now?

Yes, provided you and your spouse agree to the divorce and have been living separately for at least two years, you can get divorced without blame now. If you’d like to find out more, click here to get in touch with Quickie Divorce today.

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