‘No-fault’ divorce will be implemented in England and Wales from Autumn 2021, it has been confirmed.
It comes after the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received royal assent last week, marking a “landmark moment” for family law.
Under current legislation, a partner or spouse must attribute blame to the other before a court can legally grant separation.
However, ‘no-fault’ divorce will remove the requirement to prove one of five ground of divorce, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or two or five years of separation.
The changes come after the 2018 Supreme Court case of Owens v Owens, in which a wife’s divorce petition was turned down after she failed to prove one of the five grounds, forcing her to live in an unhappy marriage until at least 2020.
Welcoming the changes, the Law Society of England and Wales said the introduction of no-fault divorce is a “landmark moment” and will “change for the better the way couples separate”.
“Until now, divorce law in England and Wales had not changed in over 50 years and has long been due an overhaul,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.
“Introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce will cut unnecessary conflict from the separation process – allowing couples to move on as amicably as possible and focus on what really matters.”
Juliet Harvey, national chair of Resolution, added: “After more than 30 years of campaigning by our members and others who work to reduce conflict between separating couples, we are delighted that this historic Act will now become a reality.”
While removing the need to attribute blame, the new legislation will lengthen the time it takes to get a divorce, from an average of three to six months.
It is believed both changes will not come into effect until at least Autumn next year.
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