By Parmdeep Kaur
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill (2019-2021) gained Royal Assent on the 25th June 2020. This bill has been widely referred to as the ‘no fault divorce’ bill by many legal professionals and the media due to the major reform of removing the necessity of proving fault in the divorce process.
Jane McDonagh, of Simons Muirhead & Burton LLP, praised this new reform in the law, stating it will set “a positive tone for future discussions on… child arrangements and splitting assets”. However, she outlined further changes that need to be enforced in divorce processes to ‘modernise’ the laws – like the need to simplify the process of splitting assets and protecting the rights of unmarried couples.
Chair of Resolution, Margaret Heathcote, believes this reform will allow solicitors to “support couples to resolve matters constructively and amicably as possible, minimising the impact on children.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR LAW FIRMS?
There is a misconception that the removal of blame in divorce processes will provide a ‘quickie divorce’. However, this is not the case because, courts are still subjected to delays and there is a six month period before final orders can be obtained.
Although this bill has gained Royal Assent, married couples seeking to use this new process of divorce will have to continue to wait until autumn 2021. Irwin Mitchell Partner, Ros Bever, stated many of the firm’s clients were waiting for this legislation to come into force before initiating the divorce process.
This suggests a divorce spike may be seen in autumn 2021, especially following the strains on relationships during Covid-19.