This week the government has finally confirmed the date upon which the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force, 6 April 2022.
This is in fact later than previously indicated (autumn 2021), but it is understood from ministers that this further delay is necessary to ensure all required changes have been made to the Her Majesty’s Court Service’s online divorce service systems.
While a further delay to the changes is somewhat frustrating for practitioners and indeed many of their clients, confirmation of this date does at least does now provide more certainty about when the changes will take effect. Solicitors will now be able to provide their client’s with more satisfactory advice about their options, and the timescale they will have to wait if they wish to issue divorce proceedings under the new rules if that is their preference.
The new act will mean that couples will no longer need to assign blame on divorce as required under the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act.
At present, couples seeking a divorce, if they have not been separated for at least two years, must blame the other citing adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This often serves to increase the acrimony between the parties. Members of Resolution, the association of family lawyers have been campaigning for this change for many years so that divorce, and the issues that arise upon it, can all be dealt with in a constructive and non-confrontational way.
This long-awaited and welcome change is now, with more certainty, almost finally upon us.