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No Fault Divorce delayed until 2022

View profile for John Boon
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It emerged last week that, despite the legislation having passed through Parliament a year ago, the planned reforms to the Divorce System in England and Wales, which were due to be implemented this Autumn, will now be delayed until at least 6th April 2022. 

The ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19, along with difficulties in updating the Court’s IT system (amongst other things), has been blamed.  This news, although perhaps not entirely surprising, will come as a disappointment for those who have long-campaigned for reform and those who have delayed issuing proceedings in anticipation of the reforms coming into effect this year.

It will therefore remain the position for at least the next 10 months that it is only possible to Petition for Divorce or apply to Dissolve a Civil Partnership if:-

  • The marriage/civil partnership has been in place for at least one year and;
  • The Petitioner (i.e. the person presenting the Petition) is able to demonstrate to the Court that the marriage/civil partnership has broken down irretrievably, by relying on one of the following five facts:
    • That one of them had committed adultery and the other party found it intolerable to live with them (this ground is not available in Civil Partnership cases).
    • That one of the parties had behaved in such a way that the other party could not reasonably be expected to live with them.
    • That one of the parties had deserted the other for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition.
    • That the parties to the marriage had lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition and they consented to a Decree being granted.
    • That the parties to the marriage had lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition.

It could be that a delay in issuing proceedings may not be in the interests of one or both of the parties involved, so those who are contemplating issuing divorce or dissolution proceedings (whether now or once the reforms are introduced), ought to take specialist family law advice before doing so.  In addition, there are related issues concerning finances and (if applicable) children that ought to be considered at the same time.

Here at Roythornes, the members of our specialist Family Team will be able to advise you on dealing with the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership.    Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Family Law Team by telephone – 01775 842500 in order to discuss matters.   Alternatively, please send an email to nickingrey@roythornes.co.uk.