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The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

Posted on 14 September 2020

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020, albeit it is not expected the new regime created by the Act will be implemented before autumn 2021.

The Act replaces the current requirements for obtaining a divorce, dissolution or judicial separation. Whereas the current provisions require a party seeking a divorce to demonstrate that a marriage has irretrievably broken down through one of five "facts",  two most commonly used of which required attributing blame for the breakdown, the new provisions simply require that the applicant submit a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Parties can also apply jointly for a divorce – a new concept in this jurisdiction. The Act removes the ability of a respondent to contest the divorce – once the applicant has submitted a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the court "must" take the statement to be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and make a divorce order.

Kate Clark says: "After many years of campaigning by family lawyers, it will at last be possible for couples to decide they wish to end their marriage or civil partnership without having to wait for at least two years or apportion blame to one party. The implications of a 'no fault' regime mean that couples who wish to separate, will be able do so as constructively and amicably as possible, which crucially will also help to limit the impact of the divorce or dissolution on any children they have. It will not be any quicker to divorce under the new rules (so this will not mean there will be a new "quickie divorce" as has been suggested), but it is an important step in removing unnecessary animosity and reducing conflict."

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