Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 Delayed
The Family team at Bennett Griffin are pleased and relieved to see that the long-awaited introduction of the provisions of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 must has a date now of 6 April 2022! All the of the campaigning and lobbying by the public, lawyers, related professionals and politicians, that started way back before the days of Brexit, is coming to fruition and will be a victory for all those wishing and able to separate and divorce in a measured and respectful way.
The Law Society Gazette reports: “…It is now almost a year since legislation was passed to enable couples seeking a no-fault divorce after years of campaigning from lawyers calling for reform”. The Report goes on to refer to the response of the Court Minister Chris Philp MP “…the act provides for the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years. Following the legislation getting Royal Assent, the MoJ has worked with the family procedure rule committee to identify what amendments are needed and create new practice directions, and these changes are now subject to consultation…”
Jackie Mensah, from our Family team comments: “I recall a case in which my client and her husband had just, as she described it “drifted apart” and didn’t hate each other or anything more complicated. I drafted the Petition as to “behaviour” because they wanted it over and done with, without a two year separation wait. But, the Judge sent it back, rejected, stating that it didn’t have enough grit to it, basically and they needed to either reconcile or add some more acrimonious detail. That truly epitomised the ugly side of divorce law. My client and her husband refused to bad mouth one another through the Courts and waited the two year period, but that did mean putting finalising the finances on hold, as they could not secure a Consent Order without the divorce proceedings.”
The Law Society has this week called upon HMCTS to use this delay to amend, test and improve its digital systems. We can only hope that the HMCTS can catch up rapidly and facilitate this monumental, but completely over-due change in time for next spring. As Family lawyers, we are ready and waiting to help our clients consider this alternative divorce experience.