A Clean Break

Benjamin Delve of Berry Smith Lawyers considers the new rules of the divorce process.

If you are looking to bring your marriage to an end, you have two broad options: to lay the fault for the breakdown in the relationship on your spouse or, if neither of you want to blame the other, wait for a period of at least two years from the date that you separated.

Many clients that we see, seeking a divorce, issue a petition on the fact of ‘behaviour’. They are eager to proceed with divorce and wish to be able to move on with their lives and, whilst they may not want to apportion blame on their spouse, they do not want to have to wait at least two years before they can start divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, in this scenario, the law currently requires that, if you want to issue sooner, rather than later, someone will have to take the blame.

In this situation family solicitors can help resolve matters amicably by, for example, by informing your spouse in advance of an intention to file for divorce, providing them with a copy of the draft petition with a view to agreeing the content, and negotiating any contribution towards legal costs that may be incurred.

However, some couples do not like the idea of one person taking ‘the blame’ for the breakdown of the marriage. What can you do in this case, if you do not want to wait two years? Well, it may, in this instance, be worth waiting until the autumn instead.

In autumn 2021 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force, changing divorce law, and enabling a separating couple to file for divorce immediately without having to lay blame, or responsibility, for the breakdown of the marriage on their spouse. You will still be able to file a petition on other grounds, such as your spouse’s adultery but, from autumn, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

If you would like any information, or advice, about the divorce process and forthcoming changes in the law please contact a member of our Family Team at Berry Smith LLP on 02920 345525 or family@berrysmith.com