Proposed changes to the law on divorce

The key change that is proposed is that divorcing couples will no longer have to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage. The main proposals for changes to the law include:
retaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce;
replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a ‘fact’ around behaviour or separation with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown;
retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute;
creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option for one party to initiate the process;
removing the ability to contest a divorce; and
introducing a minimum timeframe of six months, from petition stage to final divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; six weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute).

The new legislation is expected to be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows. The proposed legislation will not cover other areas of matrimonial law, such as financial provision or pension sharing. Financial provision on divorce is handled in separate proceedings and the Court has wide discretion to decide on the provision for future financial needs.

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