The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill had its second reading on 8th June 2020. At the moment one spouse has to include in their divorce petition allegations of unreasonable behaviour or adultery if they want a divorce now. Otherwise they have to wait until after two years separation (with consent) or a period of five years separation. Under the new law one spouse, or the couple together, can make a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. There will then be a twenty week period between the initial petition and when the court grants the conditional decree of divorce (what used to be called ‘decree nisi’). The Applicant will still have to request the final decree (Decree Absolute). This system will also now stop divorces being contested.
How the Courts determine issues about finances and children remains unchanged but particularly in finance cases it is the issue of divorce or dissolution of a Civil Partnership that triggers a spouse’s right to apply for financial orders such as maintenance, lump sum order. Orders relating to property and pension sharing orders.
The Court will still want to consider whether equal division of matrimonial assets is appropriate or whether parties and children’s needs mean greater shares apply. There are many factors that become relevant when deciding what a fair financial settlement is.
For many individuals seeking advice about the breakdown of a marriage now this may leave them wondering about when to issue a divorce as there is still likely to be a delay before Royal Assent is given and the necessary procedures are in place. Whether you issue a divorce therefore now or wait is something you will have to consider as other factors such as when to begin financial negotiations and/or claims may have to be considered.
The aim of these changes is to make the painful process of relationship breakdown easier which professionals agree benefits families and children. We will continue to monitor the developments and advise clients about what may be the best way forward over the next 12 months. Even though the divorce process seems to be getting easier clients should still ask for our advice about the consequences for them both financially and in relation to children of a separation and divorce. It will still in many cases be appropriate to issue based on the existing grounds for example to trigger a financial claim if negotiation’s prove unsuccessful or urgent action is necessary.
If you feel that you need help please give one of our Family team a call on 01616653502 and we can talk to you about how we can help and what costs will be involved. We offer an hour long discounted fixed fee meeting at £156 during which we can advise you fully about your legal rights on separation and divorce, following the meeting we then send you a detailed letter reinforcing our advice and explaining your costs options.