The new Divorce Bill
For many years, family lawyers have been putting pressure on successive governments to alter the current fault based divorce system. After much publicity, the new divorce bill passed it’s second reading in parliament, with barely a murmur.
It is not known when this will become the new law, so at the moment, we have the existing system of issuing on the grounds of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and it has to be supported by one of five facts, including for an immediate divorce, either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
For those thinking that the new laws will make things much quicker, think again! The divorce will be submitted online, with a statement to indicate that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. But, applicants for the divorce will then have to wait 20 weeks from the date of the application before they can ask for the conditional divorce order. They will then have to wait a further 6 weeks for the final divorce order.
This means that if there are no problems, the divorce will still take a minimum of 26 weeks, so 6 months, to come through.
Finances and arrangements concerning children will continue to be dealt with in exactly the same way.
It is also not clear what the provisions will be for serving the papers on the other person, although there is a provision for a couple to jointly apply for a divorce. In addition, it’s not clear how well serviced the online applications will be. The problems with delay have been legendary in the divorce courts, so it is to be hoped that the online service will be a lot better resourced.