Managing Associate Sheena Cassidy Hope was quoted in the Daily Mail discussing the introduction of "no fault" divorce on 6 April, a significant reform of existing divorce law aimed at reducing acrimony upon the breakdown of a marriage.
In the piece, Sheena notes the potential benefits of the reforms, but warns that the divorce process may remain a lengthy one due to in-built delays in the new system which could potentially be harmful to survivors of abuse.
Sheena commented: “The reforms are welcome in terms of reducing potential acrimony at the outset of proceedings. In particular, the new system is likely to reduce the opportunity for abusers to weaponise the divorce process. However, the new procedure imposes a minimum period of 20 weeks between the divorce application and the applicant being able to apply for the first part of the divorce (a 'conditional order'). Once a conditional order is made, there will be a further minimum wait of six weeks before a final order can be made, making the process for obtaining a divorce under the new law potentially slower than under the 'fault-based' regime. The practical result is that the marriage will legally continue for a minimum of six months after a divorce application is made and the applicant has confirmed that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. For survivors of abuse seeking to exit a marriage as swiftly as possible, this built-in delay seems unhelpful. Whilst the reforms are expected that this will reduce acrimony in many cases, the reforms should also permit survivors of abuse to exit a marriage in a way that reduces the likelihood of repercussions from the perpetrator and should avoid the system being used for further abuse.”
Read the full piece here.