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Monday 6 January was dubbed “Divorce Day” by those in the legal profession, as it is the day forecast to be the most likely that couples will start proceedings to separate. However, this year, Divorce Day saw something of a reunification, as the Government re-convened over introducing a “no-fault” divorce.
As it stands in the UK currently, couples wishing to separate must fulfil one of five criteria:
● Unreasonable behaviour
● You have lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce
● You have lived apart for at least five years, even if your husband or wife disagrees
The problem is, this didn’t allow for circumstances where relationships had simply broken down, leaving couples with “no fault” forcing to file under one of the five pre-set criteria – even if it wasn’t true. However, without citing a reason in law, the divorce cannot be granted, leaving many couples citing blame where there wasn’t any, which for many only added to an already-emotional and sensitive situation.
The Government agreed that this somewhat archaic law needed to be overturned, and in 2018, started proceedings to change the law to allow couples to separate, even when there was “no fault”. However, the bill was scuppered by Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament and subsequent General Election. It is hoped that with all of that out of the way, and the start of a new decade, the new law may come back on track.
Whilst this will be a welcome move towards modernising the law, at least, hopefully, in time for next year’s Divorce Day, some critics have said that it could cast a shadow over the constitution that marriage is “for life”. Some have said that making divorce seem the easy option could see people take the commitment less seriously – particularly as divorce now be achieved online, thanks to a service launched by HM Courts and Tribunals Service in April 2018, which allowed more than 23,000 applicants to start divorce proceedings in the past year.
As someone who works on the front line of divorce myself, I’ve seen countless times how separations have cost couples and their families very dearly indeed. It’s also worth mentioning that, despite what appears to be a “quick fix”, divorce can still be a very lengthy process, online or not, and you should buckle up for the long haul.
Before hitting the send button, make sure you are aware of your legal stance before entering divorce, particularly with regard to children and finances. Also, make sure you consult with an expert lawyer to get the best advice. Contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.