The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 overhauls the existing law governing divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships and judicial separation set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Whilst the only ground for divorce or dissolution remains that the marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably, applicants must now only provide a statement in support of their application to explain how the marriage or civil partnership has broken down, and this is not limited to the five previous reasons. The court must accept that statement and application as conclusive evidence that the marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. This means that the other party cannot defend or contest an application for divorce or dissolution made by their spouse.
It is also possible for parties to make a joint application, if they are agreed that the marriage or civil partnership should be brought to an end.
The new Act allows two things:
- A couple can now divorce or dissolve their civil partnership without placing blame on one another
- A divorce or dissolution will not be drawn out or delayed due to one party’s disagreement
As there is now no requirement to apportion blame to the other party, it is likely that divorces and dissolutions will now be far more amicable. It could also have a positive effect when it comes to the division of financial assets and any issues relating to any children of the family if there are no pre-existing ill feelings arising from what is said in the initial divorce or dissolution application.
Even if a separation is not amicable, one party cannot force the other to continue in the marriage or civil partnership against their will, or cause there to be a court hearing to consider the issue. This is particularly important in situations where there has been domestic abuse.
Separation, divorce and dissolution will be a troubling and distressing time for any family. It is hoped that the new Act will both streamline and simplify the process, but also minimise this distress to all members of the family by removing the element of blame.
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This article was written by Janice Ng, Resolution Accredited Specialist & Family Solicitor.