Yesterday the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was backed by MPs with 231 votes to 16 against, with indications that it could be passed as soon as July 2020. In June 2019 the government announced that the process to include no-fault divorce into UK law was to take effect via the Bill. It was a move welcomed by many, including charities, family practitioners, and the Lord Chancellor himself, as a means to allow couples the opportunity to end their marriage without the need to apportion blame (see our previous article here for further background).
Despite objections from some MPs, who expressed concerns that this will lead to a spike in the divorce rate suggesting “if you make something easier it will happen more often”, there has been overwhelming support for the Bill. Particularly from family practitioners who, for so long, have warned against the increasing and unnecessary fallout which arises when parties are required to commence divorce proceedings on foundations of fault.
Whilst it is understandable that some may have concerns, if parties were ordinarily considering the option of divorce, then not having to base their reasoning on the other party’s behaviour may come as a welcome relief to what may already be fraught relations. Furthermore it may help the parties navigate the process in a more conciliatory way.
Whilst the Bill aims to address the basis on which parties are to divorce, it will not have an effect on the other arm of proceedings which is sometimes overlooked – the financial settlement.
There is often a misconception that once spouses get divorced their financial claims against each other are also dismissed. However that is not the case and, unless specifically dealt with, the financial claims against one another will continue to remain open after divorce.
In order to put a binding settlement in place and avoid the potential for future claims to be made a financial settlement needs to be dealt with properly. A simple document between the spouses is very unlikely to be upheld.
It therefore remains important that those couples seeking to obtain a divorce ensure that the financial settlement is properly dealt with legally. See our previous article discussing this in more detail here.
So whilst the introduction of a no-fault divorce may lead to better relations throughout proceedings, caution should be shown, especially with regards to finances, by those wishing to take advantage of what may soon be a more expeditious divorce process.
If you would like to discuss the issues covered in this article or you would like assistance in respect of a relationship breakdown then please contact our Family Team on 01603 610911.
Note: The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.