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The implementation of no-fault divorce will be delayed by at least another six months, a government minister has announced.
No blame divorce
In the biggest change in divorce law in half a century, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 finally received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020. The legislation amends the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, to allow one or both parties to apply to the court for a divorce/dissolution on the basis that the marriage/civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. In the case of marriage, it removes the requirement to apportion blame on a party. This is currently necessary unless the parties are able and willing to wait for at least two years to divorce on the basis of the period of separation.
The new system will establish a 20-week waiting time before the court can grant the decree nisi.
It was originally planned that the new Act would be implemented this Autumn, but in response to a parliamentary question, Justice Minister, Chris Philp, announced today that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) “now aims to implement the reforms on April 6 2022.”
It’s said that ministers have always felt that the earlier date was “ambitious”, and it’s understood the delay is to allow for the necessary changes to the Court Service’s IT systems which have run into “a few technical issues” and delays as a result of the pandemic.
While the additional delay is frustrating, the minister’s announcement now at least gives practitioner’s a fixed date to work towards.
A spokesman for the MoJ said, “Our changes will help divorcing couples to resolve their issues amicably by ending the needless ‘blame game’ that can exacerbate conflict and damage a child’s upbringing.”