The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 is now very much a reality. It has now received Royal Assent – although its provisions are not yet in effect – and it’s hoped that no-fault divorce proceedings will be able to start in 2021.
Many critics have suggested this will make divorces “easier” – indicating that more people will get divorced.
They’re hopefully right about one thing though: if divorces do become “easier” – without the acrimony and blame elements that have existed – people who don’t want to be together can separate with dignity and respect for one another intact. Surely that is a good outcome?
The new Act also limits the ability of one spouse to stop the divorce by contesting it. This means that numerous victims of domestic abuse, historically stuck with a partner who argues the marriage should continue, will find ending a toxic relationship simpler, if not easier.
There are concerns that the inability to contest the divorce/dissolution could leave people vulnerable financially and, in particular, regarding pension funds held by only one of the spouses. So, there will need to be an early constructive dialogue about financial arrangements – whether directly, through solicitors, dispute resolution (mediation) or the more formal court processes available.
Hopefully, we will see supporting changes to rules and procedures to reduce those risks.
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