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Lawyer welcomes divorce law reform to reduce conflict

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A Midlands family lawyer has welcomed new divorce laws coming into effect from next month which will remove the concept of fault and reduce conflict between couples.

Amy McGowan-Docherty, from mfg Solicitors, has said the new law would help to reduce conflict between couples and instead allow them to focus on the important issues such as children, property and finance.

The changes, part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, are the biggest reform to divorce laws in 50 years and will come into force on 6 April.

As part of the new rules, couples will no longer have to cite or prove that the marriage has broken down based on one of the ‘five facts’ of divorce, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour. A sole or joint statement by one or both spouses that the marriage has broken down, with no ‘blame’ on either party, is all that will be required to go ahead with the divorce.

The new law, which will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships, will remove the possibility of a divorce being contested, even if one spouse objects.

Ms McGowan-Docherty, said: “The breakdown of any marriage is an emotive time for everyone involved. The current need to prove that the marriage has broken down on one of five grounds can result in a ‘blame game’ between couples and heighten conflict at an already difficult time. This then tends to lead to an excessive involvement by solicitors, resulting in much higher costs for couples going through the process.

“The new law encourages a more collaborative and efficient approach between couples and their legal representatives, and increases the likelihood of matters being resolved outside of court.

“Removing the concept of fault and simplifying the divorce process will make it far less contentious and reduce this conflict, allowing couples to instead focus on the important issues such as children, property and finances.

“This is the biggest reform to divorce laws in 50 years and is very much welcomed.”

Ms McGowan-Docherty added that the new regulations will also see the introduction of simple new language into the process, with a Decree Nisi becoming a Conditional Order and a Decree Absolute a Final Order.

A new minimum time period of 20 weeks between submitting a statement and reaching the first stage of the divorce will be introduced to give couples a period of reflection and chance for possible reconciliation, as well as time to agree practical arrangements around separation and obtain legal advice.

After 20 weeks, a court will grant a Conditional Order - confirming the entitlement of divorce - and then six weeks and one day later, a Final Order - officially ending the marriage.

For advice on family matters, please contact Amy by calling 01562 820181 or emailing