Government Blames New System For Delays As Couples Wait For No-Fault Divorce
No-fault divorce has been delayed by six months to April 2022, prompting disappointment from experts hoping for a less acrimonious system.
In a statement from the Ministry of Justice it confirmed the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 would come into law on the 6th April 2022 instead of the timetable later this year.
The statement said the delays were due to the amended digital service and testing of the new system, adding that the previous autumn deadline had been “ambitious”.
The Act was intending to introduce no-fault divorce law to the England and Wales divorce system, the biggest change to the system in 50 years. The biggest change was replacing the need for conduct-based proof towards the breakdown of the marriage, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
Family law experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell have expressed disappointment at the news, but highlight the alternatives for couples who may have been waiting for the autumn law change.
Expert Opinion“To those in the know, it’s little surprise divorce reforms have been delayed – the courts are clearly having some serious technical difficulties at the moment.
“But to those who were perhaps waiting until the legislation was introduced, this is a big blow. Lots of couples have been waiting for this moment, living in limbo because they wanted to wait until a less hostile way of divorcing was law.
“If any couples are disappointed at the news, there are some steps that can be taken now. Taking some early advice from a professional is a good idea, just to check what their position is now if they’re planning on waiting longer for no-fault divorce. Arbitration or mediation can help to resolve matters about children, or finances.
“Divorce reforms will be a great bit of legislation that will make a lot of difference – the delay is a setback, but ultimately we will reach the point where an amicable divorce is possible.” Zahra Pabani - Partner