As lockdown restrictions ease it is likely that there will be an increase in divorce cases later this year.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is proceeding through parliament despite concerns that progress would be held up as a result of Covid-19.
The main proposed change is that divorcing couples will be able to file a Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown rather than, as at present, having to prove that the marriage has broken down by establishing one of the following “facts”.
- That one party has committed adultery and the other party finds it intolerable to live with them.
- That one party has behaved in such a way that the other party cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
- That one party has deserted the other for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the presentation of the divorce petition.
- That the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the presentation of the divorce petition and they both agree to the divorce.
- That the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years.
Provided that the new legislation is enacted it will no longer be possible to contest the basis of the divorce and the Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown will be sufficient. The courts will be able to make a Conditional Order (which used to be called a Decree Nisi) after twenty weeks from the start of the proceedings.
The advancement of no-fault divorce is welcome and, most would say, overdue. It should reduce conflict. Being able to divorce without having to blame one another would be an enormous benefit. The magnitude of the shake up to divorce law cannot be underestimated.