The plan is to move away from separating couples needing to prove their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour or adultery if they want to get divorced before they have been separated for 2 years. The new law that will introduce no-fault divorce will apply to divorce and dissolution of civil partnership. Unfortunately, it is not yet known when those changes will come into effect and the current divorce system will remain in place until then. The publicity has created confusion, with many people believing that the changes have already come into effect.
Divorce and dissolution of civil partnersip – the current picture
Currently, in order to get a divorce or to dissolve a civil partnership in England or Wales, the petitioner (the person applying for the divorce or dissolution) needs to prove to the court that their marriage or civil partnerhsp has irretrievably broken down. At present, to prove this, you must demonstrate one of five facts, which are:
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them. (Adultery does not apply to same sex civil partnerhsips or same sex marriages).
- Your spouse has behaved in a way that is so unreasonable that you find it intolerable to live with them.
- Your spouse has deserted you.
- You have been separated for a period of 2 years and your spouse consents to a divorce.
- You have been separated for a period of five years.
This means that if you want to get a ‘no-fault divorce’ you will have to wait until you have been separated for 2 years and be satisfied that your spouse will give their consent. This can be a long period to wait and can mean that you are unable to finalise any financial agreements.
Should I wait until the law changes to get divorced?
There is no clear timescale in place as to when the changes are due to come into effect. New laws can take a long time to pass and due to other priorities for Parliament at present, it may take some time. If you want to move forward with formalising your separation, it is important to speak to an experienced family lawyer to ensure that your divorce can proceed in the most appropriate way for you. We can advise you as to the best way for your divorce to progress, minimising any conflict at an already difficult time.
Contact our family law experts now for an appointment. You can also find out more about the grounds for divorce on our web pages.
Author: Rachel Read-Hill, family law solicitor.