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Divorce bill to end the ‘blame game’

5 July 2019

The government’s new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will help end the ‘blame game’ for separating couples, the Law Society of England and Wales said today as their written evidence to the bill committee was published.

“With an estimated 42% of marriages ending in divorce,* this bill has the potential to transform the process for thousands of couples,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.

“For separating parents, the current requirement to prove one of five fault-based facts can exacerbate tensions and make it difficult to remain focused on the needs of their children.

“The introduction of a ‘no fault’ divorce will help to cut the conflict from what can be a highly stressful experience.”

The bill includes several key reforms such as:

  • the introduction of a ‘no fault’ divorce
  • the option to file a joint divorce petition
  • the replacement of a two- or five-year separation period with inclusion of a 26-week notice period

“Whilst the bill marks a landmark step forwards for divorce law, there are still important details around the process which need to be addressed,” said Simon Davis.

“The current £550 court fee for divorce applications adds an extra financial hurdle to what is already a costly process for many separating couples. The government’s new online divorce system will cut the cost of administration for the courts and this should be reflected in application fees.”

The bill should also review when the notice period begins and include a three-month reflection period at the beginning of divorce proceedings.

“The notice period should begin when a partner receives their spouse’s divorce application rather than from the moment the divorce is applied for,” Simon Davis said.

“This will give them the full 26 weeks to consider the application and ensure both partners are on the same page from the very beginning.

“Introducing a three-month reflection period at the beginning of the divorce process – without any non-urgent financial discussions – would allow separating couples adequate time to consider their situation, seek the legal advice they need and change the way divorce works - for the better.”

Notes to editors

*According to research by the Office of National Statistics, an estimated 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce.

Read the Law Society’s written evidence to the bill committee

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Emma Clarke | emma.clarke@lawsociety.org.uk | 0208 049 3743