This week Family lawyers entered a new era as ‘no fault’ divorce became a reality. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into play on Wednesday, meaning couples wishing to divorce no longer need to attribute blame to the collapse of their marriage. The new legislation enables both or either parties to request an order to the court on the grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The modification in the law is the result of years of campaigning and endeavours during lockdown to put it into practice.
Stephanie Boyce, Law Society president I. commented that the legislation terminates the practice of separating couples choosing between spending years still married and proving a fault-based fact, and enables them more opportunity to amicably move forward.
‘We are delighted that the divorce system – unchanged for more than 50 years – will finally be modernised to reflect the society we live in,’ noted Boyce.
‘This divorce reform will bring our marriage laws into the 21st century and ensure that, in the future, separating couples and their children do not suffer unnecessary conflict.’
Former national chair of lawyer organisation Resolution, Nigel Shepherd, stated: ‘Resolution has campaigned for this reform since we were established in the early 1980s, so the moment that it becomes law marks a significant milestone for us as an organisation.
‘But more importantly it will make a real difference to those who are sadly facing divorce and who will no longer need to play ‘the blame game’, which too often introduced or exacerbated conflict when it could have been avoided.’
There are proposals that the reform may initially expand with the amount of divorce applications, as couples have been avoiding taking such a step until Wednesday this week.
Head of family at London firm Forsters LLP, Jo Edwards, stated: ‘The experience of other countries where they’ve moved to a no-fault system is that there is a spike when the new law comes in – in Scotland, for example, when they changed the law in 2006.’
Last week, figures published by the Ministry of Justice revealed that 22,683 divorce petitions were formulated between October and December in 2021 – a decrease of 26% from the same period in 2020. Petitions were down 5% from 2020 annually.
Lawyers will now anticipate that the government’s online divorce portal can withstand any rise.