Column: No-fault divorces are a welcome relief for millions of people

Recent weeks have seen the introduction here in England of no-fault divorce, a move that has millions breathing a huge sigh of relief, writes legal expert Jonathan Corbishley from Derbyshire Family Law.

By Jonathan Corbishley
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 5:00 pm

Until April 6, marriages ending meant couples living apart for two years, or five if one didn’t agree to divorce, or alternatively blame being apportioned for the breakdown of the relationship.

It has been a very outdated and problematic law, which could not help but lead to acrimony where there was none and fan the flames of anger in relationships where the parting was not straightforward.

As an experienced family lawyer, I have seen all manner of divorces over many years, from the couple amicably parting and keeping a dignified relationship for the sake of children, to ones where couples fight tooth and nail causing acrimony and hurt affecting them and others for a lifetime.

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Jonathan Corbishley, legal expert at Derbyshire Family Law.

Of course, it is in the realms of fantasy to sugar-coat divorce.

Even in an age where society looks upon marriage break-up in a much more accepting light than a generation or two ago, divorce is a sad event for those who go through it.

The no-fault divorce, campaigned for decades, and accepted as law in many other countries for just as long, will mean people can now move on with their lives quicker and, no doubt initially, family lawyers can expect a spike in enquiries.

This has been the case in other countries moving to no-fault divorce, including Scotland, which introduced the legislation in 2006.

It should also free up court time, as there are now no reasons to contest divorce.

Many in the judicial system will be glad of this being a knock-on effect, as the courts have struggled greatly due to the turmoil brought on by Covid, in the past couple of years.

Of course, the financial settlement process of divorce is a separate matter, and the new legislation will not necessarily mean divorces being sped through. There is now a new minimum time frame of six months for divorce proceedings.

So, it’s good to see that we now have changed this law reflecting the wants and needs of modern life here in England.

You can be certain though that in the complex world of law new battles lie ahead.

The law continues to evolve, and always will.

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