Divorce: be in the know

Benjamin Delve of Berry Smith Lawyers tells us about the routes couples need to take in order to split.

Traditionally, divorce (or dissolution of a civil partnership) in England and Wales is viewed as an adversarial process, with many couples resorting to pointing blame at their partner for the breakdown of their relationship regardless of whether the decision to end the marriage was mutual.

In some instances, the person filing for divorce/dissolution may seek to apportion responsibility for the breakdown of the relationship on their partner.

Applicants issued on a ‘fault’ basis enable the applicant, among other things, to recover any costs incurred in bringing the marriage/civil partnership to a close.

Couples can, presently, file for divorce without pointing blame at their spouse. However, to do so they must have been separated for at least two years, have their spouse’s consent, or have been separated for at least five years. This period is often considered to be too long, with many couples wishing to move on with their lives as soon as they are able.

In many cases, the apportionment of blame can increase hostility and ill-feeling between a couple and overflow into other ancillary issues, namely their financial and child-care arrangements. In an effort to decrease hostility in the legal process, the government introduced a new law last year which will enable couples to apply for divorce without pointing blame at their spouse.

From 6 April 2022 parties to a marriage/ civil partnership will be able to able to file an application for divorce/dissolution without the need to establish or rely on any ‘facts’ (including the need to apportion blame). Couples will also be able to choose whether to file an application together – something which is not presently possible. Whilst this will be a welcome change for many, it is still a many months away, it may not come soon enough for some.

If you would like advice on the divorce process, including whether you should apply for divorce/dissolution now, or wait until 6th April 2022, please contact out family team at Berry Smith on 02920 345511 or by email at family@berrysmith.com