Meaningful reflection to be preserved under new family laws

The widely welcomed Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received its first reading in Parliament this month after being delayed by the snap General Election in December.

The new laws are primarily aimed at ending the “divorce blame game” by eliminating the requirement for one partner to make accusations about the other’s conduct.

While the legislation is designed to reduce the impact a divorce can have on a couple and their children, the new laws will ensure a minimum waiting period between the initial petition stage and when the court grants the provisional decree of divorce to at least 20 weeks.

Including the existing six week waiting period between the granting of the decree nisi and the decree absolute, a divorce will now take a minimum of six months to process.

The current waiting time for 40 per cent of all divorces in England and Wales that are granted are within three to four months of petition. Administrative delays due to backlogs of work at the Divorce Centres mean that many wait longer, while others wait for the finances to be agreed first and obtain a Financial Remedies Order, often by agreement.

Commenting on the legislation, the Government said the new waiting period “will provide a meaningful period of reflection and the chance to turn back”, or where divorce is inevitable, “it will better enable couples to cooperate and make arrangements for the future”.

For more information about the new rules, get in touch with our expert family law team today.

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