The new divorce legislation which is coming into force from 6th April 2022 means that couples will be able to obtain a divorce without one party having to apportion blame on the other. At present, one party can ‘blame’ the other, citing unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion after waiting 2 years, or avoid this blame by waiting for 2 years separation with consent or 5 years separation. From 6th April, Divorces will be granted purely on the basis that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, without being supported by one of the facts above.
Whilst for some couples the new legislation is welcomed with open arms, for others the new legislation will take away the personal reasons for the divorce, and the chance for the Petitioner (being the person who applies for the divorce) to tell the Court the reasons for no longer wanting to be married to their spouse. This could be for reasons such as the Respondent exercising their control, manipulation, coercive behaviour, or even domestic violence. There is no scope in the new Divorce Petition to explain why the marriage has broken down, and so the Petitioner may not feel ‘heard’ by the Court.
If you are ready to start Divorce Proceedings now, and you feel you want the Court to know details about why the marriage broke down, then you can still start a divorce on one of the 5 grounds set out above. However, the Courts will stop accepting Divorce Petitions on this basis on 30th March 2022. It is worth noting that the vast majority of divorces go through without any problems because both parties agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, even when blame is attributed to one party.
Although having to blame the divorce on one party can be seen as unattractive, it is mostly symbolic and will not affect the outcome of the divorce or the financial aspects of the divorce. The sweeping divorce reforms may however leave some Petitioners feeling as if they haven’t been heard.
If you are going through a separation, or are considering leaving your partner, you can get in touch with one of our lawyers for a free, no obligation, 30 minute telephone consultation to discuss your options. Please contact any of our offices: Banbury, Bicester and Rugby. Alternatively, you can contact us directly on 01295 270999.