Ipswich solicitor welcomes historic change to divorce law

The new divorce laws will be enforced from 6 April 2022

The new divorce laws will be enforced from 6 April 2022, pushing through a no-fault procedure to reduce tension and blame between both parties. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The most significant change to family law in nearly 50 years will come into effect next month. 

From April 6, divorcing couples will be able to end their marriage with neither party having to attribute blame to the other. To say that the marriage has irretrievably broken down will be sufficient. 

“This act removes the fault basis from petitions,” said Georgina Rayment, partner and head of family at Prettys solicitors in Ipswich.

“Previously, a couple had to prove one of five facts to get divorced, which were adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, a two-year separation or a five-year separation. 

“Of course, that brings with it an element of blame, or a period where you’d have to wait a long time. 

“It's intended to make things less antagonistic, which is a very positive thing when you're trying to co-parent or resolve financial matters. 

“There's also no longer a concept of ‘quickie divorce.’ The new system requires a minimum of 26 weeks to progress, and that is to give the couple time to reflect on whether reconciliation really isn't possible and to give them a chance to organise their finances. 

“What does need to be made clear by the government is that ending a marriage doesn't automatically end financial claims. You have to do those in a separate process and you’ll need a lawyer.” 

Georgina Rayment is the Partner and Head of Family at Prettys Solicitors.

Georgina Rayment is the Partner and Head of Family at Prettys Solicitors. She welcomes this change to family law, the most significant development for almost fifty years. - Credit: Stillview photography

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The government will also be introducing a new online portal through which couples can apply for divorce, which Georgina says is intended to make the process easier. 

"One slight downside is that some people may be left feeling a little vulnerable, their spouse could start divorce proceedings with little warning and there's nothing they can do to stop it.” 

However, she says that the 26-week period will hopefully encourage couples to talk through proceedings, and avoid situations such as these. 

“We would always say to someone in that position, they must take legal advice at the earliest opportunity, so that they are reassured and protected.” 

Overall, Georgina is confident that this change in law will allow for smoother, less fraught divorce proceedings. 

“I've got clients who are waiting for the sixth of April to come round, because they consulted me within the last of quarter of the year and I’ve said to them, it's just not worth picking a fight unnecessarily."