NEW legislation removing the ‘blame culture’ from divorce proceedings has been welcomed by a leading family lawyer.
Amy Fallows, Head of Family Law at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, believes the introduction of the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, better known as the no-fault divorce, will significantly reform the divorce process by no longer apportioning responsibility on one person for the breakdown of a marriage.
Currently, couples in England and Wales have to prove that one half of the relationship was at fault for the ending of the marriage, most commonly through committing adultery or unacceptable behaviour, or they have to be separated for two years before they can file for divorce.
The new legislation will remove the requirement of evidence being produced to show one person was responsible for the marriage breakdown, while applications submitted jointly by both parties will also be permitted for the first time.
Amy, who practises in all aspects of family law including divorce, cohabitation, children and domestic violence, said the changes would make the divorce process much less stressful for all parties.
She said: “A lot of couples who want to divorce often don’t have specific examples that their partner has done this or that. It’s simply down to the fact that their marriage has broken down and they don’t want to be together any longer.
“When you have to apportion the blame to one half of the relationship, it can lead to negativity and bad feelings which don’t help anyone.
“That blame culture hasn’t really been the case for the past 20 years, but the law hasn’t caught up with society until now.
“This new legislation will make things much more straightforward and remove the pointing of fingers and making accusations towards a partner. A lot of the time, couples really don’t want to share their reasons for a divorce, and this takes away that embarrassment.
“Going through a divorce can be a very stressful time for all involved and we are on hand to advise on all aspects of proceedings to make the process as stress free as possible.”
While the new legislation aims to make divorce proceedings more simplistic, Amy believes that its introduction will not lead to a rise in separations.
She said: “I don’t think divorce rates will significantly increase just because the process has been made easier. I think there may be an initial rush among those who are currently waiting for two years of separation to elapse, but I would expect divorce rates to remain the same as they are.”
The main objectives of the new legislation is to:
● Replace the five facts needed to apportion blame with a new requirement to provide a statement of ‘irretrievable breakdown’;
● Remove the possibility of one half of the relationship contesting the divorce;
● Introduce an option for an application submitted jointly by both parties;
● Change the language by replacing ‘decree nisi’ to conditional order and ‘decree absolute’ to final order, to make the process easier to understand.
The ‘no-fault divorce’ is due to come into force in April 2022 after the Government postponed the scheduled start date by six months.
Amy, who is also a part-time Deputy District Judge in the county court and family court in Manchester, Liverpool and across the North West, is well known for her family law expertise, and has a particular specialism in divorce, children and finance. She can be contacted on 01228 516666.
Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors has six offices across Cumbria and Northumberland including Brampton, Penrith, Cockermouth, Haltwhistle, and two in Carlisle.
It is the only legal firm in Cumbria to be a member of the innovative UK200Group, and offers specialist expertise to individuals and businesses across a wide range of sectors.
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