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Six month delay to no fault divorce ‘disappointing’ says family lawyer

Chris Longbottom of Clarke Willmott

A decision to delay the start of the long-awaited no-fault divorce until 2022 is disappointing, says Cardiff-based leading national law firm Clarke Willmott.

The landmark legislation which was due to come into force in October has now been put back to April 2022 to allow sufficient time to sort out technical issues.

Chris Longbottom, who heads Clarke Willmott LLP’s family law team, says for couples whose marriage has broken down any delay is disheartening.

“Dealing with the collapse of a relationship and its associated financial implications is extremely stressful for all who go through it,” said Chris.

“At the moment, there is no way for couples to start divorce proceedings without citing blame to one party – unless they are separated for two years with consent, or five years without.

“This often creates conflict where perhaps there wouldn’t have been.”

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which received Royal Assent in June 2020 and has been hailed the biggest change to divorce law in 50 years.

“No-fault divorce will be the biggest update to our divorce law in decades and the change are intended to keep pace with modern daily life,” added Chris.

“It removes the adversarial base of many divorce cases, ending years of campaigning to remove the need to blame one of the parties when seeking to divorce.

“Instead, the new law will require divorcing couples to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown, with a focus on reaching a resolution as quickly and painlessly as possible.

“This will replace the need for evidence of conduct, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour, or proof of separation at what is a traumatic point in their lives.”

He says although the new legislation has been delayed, he urges parties to speak with a family law solicitor in the interim on the best way to proceed to reduce tensions.