This briefing outlines the views of the Law Society in relation to the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill ahead of its second reading in the House of Lords on 5 February. The bill, which had its first reading in the House of Lords on 7 January, introduces a system of no-fault divorce.
The Law Society unequivocally welcomes and supports legislation to introduce no-fault divorce.
The bill will:
- replace the requirement to provide evidence of conduct or separation with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown followed by an overall period of notice of 26 weeks
- remove the possibility of contesting the divorce as the statement of irretrievable breakdown will be taken as determinative of such
- introduce the option for a joint application
- update the language used to ensure it is fit for the modern age; for example decree nisi to conditional order and decree nisi to final order
The Law Society's position
We welcome and support the bill and have been vocal in our support of no-fault divorce.
We have one key area for improvement: that the 26-week period of notice should begin from the date of service, for example when the respondent has formal receipt of notice or can be taken to have receipt of notice.
There are several clarifications that could be made to strengthen the bill and ensure that it is clear, fair and accessible. We outline these in the briefing.