After many years of suffering with an old fashioned, antagonistic set of matrimonial rules surrounding divorce, the law has now significantly changed. This means that parties no longer have to rely on one of the “five facts” to prove the ground for divorce. The old law had those facts as being “unreasonable behaviour”, adultery and separation based on two and five years. Unreasonable behaviour and adultery in particular were extremely confrontational and where there are children involved, the idea of parties arguing about who was to blame, was completely unnecessary and not in the children’s best interests.

It is, therefore, a relief that parties can now simply state that there is an irretrievable breakdown and joint applications are now possible if both of them agree to proceed with the divorce. There is an ability to defend or contest a divorce, dissolution or separation. The language used has also be updated, so there is no such thing as a Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute but instead they will become “conditional orders” and “final orders” respectively.

This procedure will be slightly longer as there is a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of the proceedings to when the conditional order can be made. This indicates the fact that the Courts want to make sure that both parties have considered whether or not a separation is exactly what they want. Given the fact that these changes make applying for divorce easier, they want people to take it seriously and have time to reflect, instead of just reacting to a row or incident between parties.

This hopefully should encourage a more constructive approach to separation, promoting reconciliation on reflection where possible. Hopefully, the trust between the parties will still remain so that there can be more reasonable communications early on in respect of settling the matrimonial finances and matters pertaining to any children they might have.

As always, we are here to help with all Family matters, so please do telephone us if you need help with your divorce and financial settlement. Call on 024 7655 5400 or email