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No-fault divorce comes into force today

View profile for Sam Miles
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The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020), represents the biggest stir in divorce law for more than half a century. It eliminates the need for separating couples to assign blame for their marriage's breakdown, allowing them to concentrate on important practical concerns amicably such arrangements for their children or separating their matrimonial finances, as well as planning for the future.

Previously, one spouse had to accuse the other of 'unreasonable behaviour' or adultery, or face years of separation before a divorce could be granted. This was the case whether or not a couple had mutually decided to divorce.

The amendments mean that a spouse, or a couple jointly, can now file for divorce by claiming that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. It avoids unneeded pointing of fingers and acrimony at a time when emotions are already running high, and it protects children from seeing their parents going back and forth in battles.

Importantly, it prevents one person from waging a nasty divorce battle at the outset or defending the fact used to essentially trap their spouse in an unpleasant marriage until 5 years separation was available. This behaviour will be put to an end as a result of the reforms.

The Act also establishes a new 20-week minimum timeframe between the initiation of proceedings and the filing of a conditional order of divorce. This will give you time to ponder and possibly turn back, or to agree on critical future arrangements, such as those involving children, finances, and property, if reconciliation is not feasible.

For further information about the no-divorce law, visit the government website on:

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