Thousands of couples are scrambling to divorce this week ahead of what is being heralded as the biggest change to UK family law for half a century.
But the change which comes into effect on April 6 won’t make separating harder. Instead it will see the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce.
The move will end the divorce blame game, meaning couples will no longer have to give a reason for permanently separating.
And it means grounds for dissolving a marriage, such as adultery, will be a thing of the past and divorce applications will immediately be granted.
But before the new law comes into effect, the current online divorce application service will have to close for a week to make way for the new changes.
This means couples won’t be able to apply for a divorce again until Wednesday April 6, when the updated online service relaunches, the government has confirmed. The new alterations, under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, aims to reduce the potential for conflict amongst divorcing couples.
But surprisingly, law firms have been seeing an increase in couples filing for divorces before the ‘no fault’ policy comes into effect. Amanda Phillips-Wyld, Managing Partner at Lawyers at Stowe Family Law, says the number of individuals scrambling to enquire about divorce, while still within the time frame to cite the grounds of divorce, has been ‘surprising,’.
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Research carried out by the revealed that 43% of British erroneously believed that being able to prove the other party was at fault for the marital breakdown would favourably impact their financial settlement and custody over any children.
But Amanda said this is not the case. “This perhaps points towards a lack of understanding as to what no-fault divorce means. “We are therefore finding that people are enquiring about divorcing while they can still apportion blame to their spouse with the assumption that they will get more out of the divorce.
“But the reality is that blame in a divorce achieves very little. In actual fact, taking away the blame is what will help people focus on the important issues and has no impact on the financial or child settlements.
“The rise in divorce enquiries shows how deeply the blame game is embedded in our culture, an in many instances, apportioning blame is part of a person’s catharsis when filing.”
Lawyers at Stowe Family Law think the nation should ’embrace’ the new laws, as they will be beneficial ‘not only from a practical standpoint’ but also from a ‘mental health perspective.’ Amanda added: “The new laws are designed to help reduce the emotionally traumatic process of going through a divorce.”
Stowe Family Law’s research also found that 79% of people don’t know anything about the changes to divorce law, meanwhile 17% of people who are about to get divorced are not waiting for no-fault divorce to become law, versus 11% who are going to wait.