The government has acknowledged that its plans to bring in legislation to introduce no fault or no blame divorce proceedings and dissolution of civil partnership proceedings in England and Wales may result in an increase in divorce proceedings.

The Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke made a statement recently saying that people were holding off starting divorce proceedings until the new UK divorce law comes into force. The government thinks that when the new divorce law is brought in there may be a spike in the divorce rate but the divorce rate will then level off and ultimately will be about the same.

Manchester divorce solicitors have welcomed the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill as the Bill, when it becomes law, will remove the requirement to make allegations about spousal behaviour in divorce petitions.

Proposed new divorce law

The government is plans to change divorce law and civil partnership dissolution to:

  • Remove the ability of a husband or wife or civil partner to oppose a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership in court;
  • Make ‘’irretrievable breakdown’’ of a marriage or civil partnership the only ground for divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. There will be no need to prove one of the current ‘’facts’’ to get a divorce, such as unreasonable behaviour. Instead the spouse or civil partner seeking the divorce or dissolution of civil partnership will have to  provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown;
  • Keep the two-stage decree nisi and the decree absolute divorce process;
  • Provide a minimum timeframe of six months from start of the divorce petition stage to final decree absolute of divorce or civil partnership. This six month period is to allow time for reflection before the divorce proceedings or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings are finalised;
  • Allow couples to jointly start divorce or dissolution proceedings should they elect to do so.

Although the government minister has said that couples who are thinking about starting divorce proceedings or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings may delay their court proceedings until the divorce law reforms become law, divorce solicitors say that for some couples a delay in starting divorce or dissolution proceedings may not be in their interests.

The current divorce law

Currently there is no such thing as a ‘’no fault’’ divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. If you want to get divorced, without waiting, in England, you have to show that your marriage has ‘’irretrievably broken down’’ and cite either adultery or unreasonable behaviour. A civil partner can only cite unreasonable behaviour in a dissolution of civil partnership petition.

Avoiding an acrimonious divorce   

The top Manchester divorce solicitors believe that, in most cases, experienced divorce solicitors can help avoid any acrimony when starting divorce proceedings, based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour, by:

  • Giving advice that in most situations the basis for the divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings will not affect the custody arrangements for the children or who gets the house ; and
  • Preparing the divorce paperwork in a way that avoids unnecessarily inflaming any tension between a husband and wife or civil partners; and
  • Helping a couple look at the major issues that need resolving, such as access and contact arrangements for the children, payment of child support and spousal maintenance and sorting out a financial settlement and financial court order.

Should you delay your divorce? 

Some couples are already asking top Manchester divorce solicitors if they should delay getting divorced now to avoid having to say that their partner has committed adultery or behaved unreasonably in the divorce petition. The top Manchester divorce solicitors say that:

  • Starting divorce proceedings because of a spouse’s unreasonable behaviour or adultery does not have to increase animosity between a couple if there is a an explanation given by divorce  solicitors of why you are having to include the allegations in a petition;
  • In some family situations, it is vital to start divorce proceedings without delay. For example, if you are worried that your spouse could start divorce proceedings in another jurisdiction or if you are concerned that a delay in starting divorce proceedings could reduce the amount of a financial settlement. For example, a spouse could spend a pension lump sum payment or a spouse could transfer or hide assets.

Top Manchester divorce solicitors recommend that if you are contemplating a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership that legal advice is taken on the timing of starting court proceedings. That is because new legislation is not the only way of ensuring that you can get divorced without acrimony, as a lot depends on your choice of solicitor and willingness to communicate and compromise where appropriate.

How can Evolve Family Law solicitors help?

For advice on starting divorce proceedings or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings or for children law or financial settlement advice call Evolve Family Law on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email Robin Charrot at robin@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk

Appointments available in Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire