No-fault divorces to come into effect in autumn next year
The government has confirmed that no fault divorces will be available from autumn next year.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has finished its passage through the House of Commons but it will not come into effect immediately “because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation”.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: “At this early stage, we are working towards an indicative timetable of implementation in autumn 2021.”
The cautious approach reflects the concerns expressed by critics of the bill that it will make it too easy for couples to end their marriage before exploring every avenue to find a way to stay together.
Under current law, one spouse must allege adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion in order to start divorce proceedings immediately.
Under the new law, they will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The bill also allows couples to jointly apply for a divorce, where the decision to separate is mutual.
As a safeguard against couples rushing too quickly into ending their marriage, there must be a minimum six-month period between the lodging of a petition to the divorce being made final.
Mr Buckland said the bill will end the “blame game” in divorce and make separation "less traumatic".
Speaking in parliament he said: "No one sets out thinking that their marriage is going to end, no one wants their marriage to break down, none of us are therefore indifferent when a couple's lifelong commitment has sadly deteriorated.
"It is a very sad circumstance but the law, I believe, should reduce conflict when it arises.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We will always uphold the institution of marriage. But when divorce cannot be avoided, the law must not create conflict between couples that so often harms the children involved.
"Our reforms remove the needless “blame game” while ensuring there is a minimum six-month time frame to allow for reflection and the opportunity to turn back."
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