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Radical Divorce Bill Awaits Approval

By 4 September 2020divorce, Law news

The radical Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament this week and is now awaiting Royal Assent, the final stage in the creation of new legislation.

The key change introduced by the legislation will be the removal of the current requirement to cite one of five ‘facts’ or reasons when applying for a divorce. These are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation by agreement
  • Five years’ separation without agreement

The requirement to cite these facts has been a bone of contention for decades, with lawyers and campaigners arguing that attributing fault in four of the five encouraged further acrimony and confrontation within a process that is often already emotionally fraught.

The new bill will replace the need to cite a reason with a simpler requirement for a declaration that the marriage has broken down. This approach is often labelled ‘no fault’ divorce and variations of it are already used in a number of jurisdictions around the world.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will introduce other changes, including the rebranding some key stages in the process. Initial divorce petitions will now be known simply as ‘applications for a divorce order’. The penultimate decree nisi stage will ditch the Latin and become a ‘conditional order’, while the final decree absolute will now be known as just that: a ‘final divorce order’.

A date for Royal Assent of the bill has yet to be scheduled.

You can read the full text of the final bill here.

To discuss divorce matters, please contact the Partners on 01223 443333.