Currently if you wish to issue divorce proceedings there needs to be a reason or ground relied upon. There are five grounds which are:

  1. Adultery
  2. Behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years separation with consent
  5. Five years separation

Parties are required to use a fault based ground being adultery or behaviour if they have not been separated from each other for at least two years. This can lead to increased tension between the parties and make a once amicable separation not so amicable. It is well known that where parties are not amicable costs can increase between them and any agreement can become very difficult.

We are hopefully moving ever closer to changes to our divorce law which are extremely overdue. The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has been approved by Parliament and this legislation should be in place by Autumn 2021. The new legislation will allow couples to file for divorce jointly as well as one party making the application and without placing the blame on one party. Parties will be providing a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and not relying on the other party’s conduct or a period of separation. This should lead to couples being able to reach amicable settlements within the proceedings and allow parties to move forwards in a more constructive manner.

There were concerns that this could lead to increased divorce applications or an impression that we are entering ‘quickie divorce’ territory. Family solicitors do not consider this change in the law will increase applications. However, it will assist clients to go through the proceedings in a far less confrontational manner. The legislation still provides for a minimum time period of 6 months which allows parties to reflect on their decision and therefore this will not be a quicker process.

If you are considering divorce proceedings and would like to understand your options now and under the new legislation our Family Law experts can help you. We are offering telephone and video appointments outside of usual office hours to assist clients that may well not be available to talk during the day. Please contact us here to arrange an appointment.