Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Passing of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020: reforming divorce law

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The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 received the Royal Assent on 26 June 2020. It comes into force on a date to be determined, probably later in 2020. A transition period  is required so that new court forms and procedures, including those to be used online, can be written and agreed.

As modern Acts of Parliament go, this measure is modest in length – a mere 9 sections. But, as I have noted in this blog before, the Act

  • replaces the current requirement to evidence either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (for the first time, couples can opt to make this a joint statement).
  • removes the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce, as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
  • introduces a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to confirmation to the court that a conditional order of divorce may be made, allowing greater opportunity for couples to agree practical arrangements for the future where reconciliation is not possible and divorce is inevitable.

The history of the campaign to reform the law of divorce is a long and tortuous one. The Church of England report, Putting Asunder, was published in 1964. It was the subject of one of the Law Commission’s earliest report, published in 1966. The Commission published its proposals for a single ground for divorce in 1990. Many commentators take this as the starting date for the campaign for reform which has culminated in the present Act.

The Act itself can be found at https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2019-21/divorcedissolutionandseparation.html

The 1966 Law Commission report is at https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/reform-of-the-grounds-of-divorce-the-field-of-choice/#related

The 1990 Law Commission report is at https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/family-law-the-ground-for-divorce/

 

 

Written by lwtmp

July 6, 2020 at 10:47 am

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