The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, under which a system of no-fault divorce will be introduced, has passed through both houses of parliament. The Bill now just requires the Royal Assent before it becomes law.
However, the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC has warned that the new law is unlikely to be implemented until autumn 2021, as “time needs to be allowed for careful implementation”. This will include the making of the necessary rules and procedures to give effect to the law, which will obviously be quite different to the present system.
All of which begs the question: what do you do if you want to commence divorce proceedings? Do you proceed under the present law, or wait for the new law to come in?
At the moment, in view of how far the new law is still away, the answer must generally be that you should proceed now, unless you will have to wait anyway for the requisite period of separation to elapse. (If you can’t or don’t want to issue divorce proceedings now on the basis of the other party’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour, you have to wait until you have been separated for two years if the other party consents to the divorce, or for five years if they do not consent.)
However, as we get closer to the introduction of the new law, then more and more people will no doubt prefer to wait, rather than have to apportion blame for the marriage breakdown under the present system.
And if you believe that your spouse will defend divorce proceedings, then it may be more appropriate to wait, as defended divorce proceedings will not be possible under the new system.
If you want further advice as to whether to commence divorce proceedings you should consult an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such a lawyer – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.
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