No-fault divorces are set to become available to divorcing couples from autumn 2021.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was backed by 231 MPs against 16 in a House of Commons vote on 8th June 2020, and concluded its passage through the House of Commons yesterday on 17th June 2020. The Bill will now be subject to further review by the House of Lords before receiving Royal Assent.
Lord chancellor Robert Buckland advised MPs of an “indicative timetable of implementation in autumn 2021”.
Ending the divorce blame-game
The aim of the bill is to remove the need for couples to assign blame for relationship breakdown when filing for divorce.
Under current divorce rules in England and Wales, evidence has to be provided relating to the separation or to the behaviour of a spouse.
Divorce is only possible where there is proof of either adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion. Where there is no consent to divorce from the other spouse, a divorce can only be granted if the couple has lived apart for at least five years.
The rules have largely remained unchanged for more than 50 years.
The new law would see divorcing couples in England and Wales only have to make a statement to confirm that their relationship has irrevocably broken down, with no blame having to be apportioned.
Spouses will not be able to contest the choice of divorce, except in cases of coercision and fraud.
A minimum six-month period will have to pass between the start of divorce proceedings and the divorce being finalised.
The bill has now been committed to a Committee of the Whole House on a date to be announced, ahead of receiving royal assent.