New divorce law followed by new marriage law.

Earlier this year the much awaited No Fault Divorce Law (the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020) came into force on 6 April 2022. For many this was a sigh of relief, allowing them to pursue a divorce without the need for blame, and without the need for their spouse’s cooperation.

This was evident by the sharp incline in divorce applications lodged once the new law came into force. Statistics published by the Law Society revealed that there were 12,978 new divorce applications in April 2022. Only the year before, there were 6,764, applied digitally under the old law.

On the topic of divorce, research has suggested that there has been a decline in marriages being entered into by individuals aged 16-17. It was found that in 2018 those marrying were 99.5% lower than in 1972. Research published by Parliament in February 2022 revealed that only 147 16 to 17-year-olds entered into a marriage with a member of the opposite sex in 2018. That was the latest figure, and represented 0.06% of all marriages in 2018. The current number of marriages being entered into by individuals aged 16-17 is unknown, but is expected to be much lower than in 2018.

Parliament believe that raising the age of consent to marry to 18 will reduce forced marriages, violence against women, and safeguard young people. Following support from Parliament in November 2021, the Government have now confirmed that the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 will come into effect on 27 February 2023. This will prohibit any person aged under 18 to marry or enter a civil partnership under any circumstance.

The New Marriage Law will come into force less than a year after the No Fault Divorce Law went live.  Although no connections have been drawn between the two Act’s, it brings to question whether tougher measures on marriage are coming into effect to combat the simpler means to divorce. Given that getting married is seemingly an easy process, containing the ease of divorce seems counter-intuitive.

As already mentioned, many people have welcomed the new divorce law as it allows individuals to finally apply for divorce without the need to blame their spouse. This has had a particular impact on individuals in abusive marriages, where their spouses refuse to separate, and would be triggered by receiving a divorce blaming them. For many such individuals, having to rely on unreasonable behaviour as a fact for divorce put them in the firing line. Additionally, as defended divorces have now been abolished, disagreement about whether to get divorced is now also avoided.

In comparison, those couples who are happy to divorce and wish to remain amicable, can now apply as joint applicants. This is a clear reflection of the change in attitude toward divorce, allowing people to leave a marriage that no longer serves them without any hard feelings. This will be of particular relevance to parents who are divorcing, but wish to co-parent and remain friends for the best interests of their children.

However, the new No Fault Divorce has not come without restriction to those seeking a divorce. The Act sets time constraints in the divorce process, so even applications that are promptly dealt with will take a minimum of 26 weeks from start to finish. This is surely frustrating for many people who wish to have their divorce over and done with as soon as possible. Under the old law, swift divorces could be over in a matter of 10-12 weeks.  Those who applied for divorce as soon as the new divorce law came into force on 6 April 2022 will only be able to have their divorce finalised by 5 October 2022.

Our family department has specialist divorce expertise you can trust with your matter. Our divorce lawyers will advise you every step of the way, and work to alleviate your anxieties around this stressful time. We understand that individuals have work and childcare commitments. Our lawyers based in Hammersmith are easily accessible and can work around your busy schedule, offering remote and in-person appointments.

Currently, we are offering a free initial telephone consultation with our family team for new enquires. During this call we will tell you whether we can help, and what we can do next to get started. Give our family solicitors a call now for a friendly chat on 020 8735 9770 or email our family law department at info@hpwsolicitors.co.uk

 


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