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How will no-fault divorce affect your separation?

Following royal approval of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill in June 2020, new rules governing divorce are set to come into effect in autumn this year.

The new legislation will introduce “no-fault divorce”, wiping out the requirement to attribute blame to a partner when seeking legal separation – such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

But with more people than ever enquiring about divorce following the national lockdown, how could the new laws affect you?

Here, Mander Hadley’s Associate Director Peter Burden, who heads up our Family Department, explains how the new no-fault rules will affect separating couples:

No-fault divorce could help families avoid unnecessary conflict

The need to attribute blame can often cause more damage than the divorce itself. By removing this requirement, divorcing couples could spend more time focusing on the future, such as the wellbeing of their children and how finances can be settled. Resolution, the family law group, also says no-fault divorce will “increase the chances of successful non-court dispute resolution”.

How will the new laws affect financial settlements?

Contrary to popular opinion, unreasonable behaviour or adultery is rarely considered when calculating a financial settlement. Removing the need to attribute blame, therefore, will have little effect on the outcome of your legal proceedings.

No-fault divorce may allow you to divorce sooner

Under existing laws, you and your partner can only divorce if blame has been attributed or you have been separated for two years and you both agree to the divorce, or have been separated for five years.

No-fault divorce will waive this requirement, meaning you could apply for a divorce immediately, despite your partner’s contestation.

However, to give families ample time to reconcile, partners seeking a no-fault divorce will have to wait for a period of six months before a divorce can be finalised.

No-fault divorce does not mean you should not seek legal advice

While no-fault divorce will avoid unnecessary family conflict, it will not address important legal matters, such as representation in legal proceedings, childcare arrangements, and financial settlements.

These issues will still need to be negotiated and agreed upon and a highly effective way to do this is through mediation. This enables both spouses to get together for an objective conversation about practical matters such as your finances or children, in a neutral setting, which can be very helpful.

For expert help and advice on divorce and separation, please get in touch with our Family Law team today.

Additionally, we are able to offer mediation, through our dedicated practice, Warwickshire Mediation. For more information about mediation, please contact us.

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Peter Burden

Peter Burden

Associate Director and Head of the Family Department at Mander Hadley Solicitors
I am experienced in all areas of family law, including divorce, financial remedy claims, disputes over children, separation agreements, cohabitation disputes, pre and post nuptial agreements, living together agreements, non-molestation orders and occupation orders.

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