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No fault divorce lawyers

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It is the news that top London divorce solicitors have been waiting for: the introduction of no fault or no blame divorce proceedings in England and Wales.

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke announced in Parliament planned legislation on divorce law reform. The announcement is the government response to a consultation on divorce law reform. The public consultation on divorce law took place from mid-September to mid-December 2018. As a result of the public consultation response, the government is proposing to remove the legal requirement to make allegations about spousal conduct in divorce petitions.

The Lord Chancellor said that whilst families are the bedrock of society, and marriage has long proved its vital importance to family stability, the Government supports divorce law reform.
Mr Gauke said:

“The current law does little to reduce conflict when divorce occurs. It urgently needs reform to encourage a more conciliatory and constructive approach to undoing a marriage, and to ensure better outcomes for all those involved, and especially for children.”

The government says that it intends to bring forward divorce law reform legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. The best London divorce solicitors are delighted that the government plans to make the divorce process less acrimonious as that is good news for separating couples.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

London based OTS Solicitors provide advice on all aspects of family and divorce law and provide pragmatic, professional advice tailored to your individual personal and financial circumstances.
Couples who are contemplating a separation or starting divorce proceedings might be thinking about delaying starting divorce proceedings until the divorce law reforms have been brought in. For some couples a delay in starting divorce proceedings may not be in their interests.
To discuss your separation or divorce proceedings and how the family law team at OTS Solicitors can help you keep your separation or divorce as amicable as possible please call 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London divorce solicitors who will be happy to help you.

Current divorce law

Under current divorce law there is no such thing as a “no fault divorce”. If you want to get divorced in England, you have to be able to show that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down” based on one of five facts:
• Adultery; or
• Unreasonable behaviour; or
• Desertion for two years; or
separation for two years provided your spouse agrees to a divorce; or
separation for five years, in which case your spouse does not have to agree to the divorce.
The top London divorce solicitors believe that, in most cases, sensitive and experienced divorce solicitors can minimise the animosity of starting divorce proceedings based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour by:
• Clear advice that in most family situations the basis for the divorce proceedings does not affect the parenting arrangements for the children or the terms of the financial settlement; and
• Sensitive drafting of the divorce proceedings paperwork to avoid unnecessarily inflaming any acrimony between a husband and wife; and
• Focusing on the major issues that require resolution, such as the day-to-day care arrangements for the children, who will stay in the family home, and if spousal maintenance should be paid.
Accordingly, the best London divorce solicitors say that separating couples should not be deterred from taking legal advice on starting divorce proceedings under the current English divorce law. Even though there may be an element of “blame” in the divorce paperwork experienced divorce solicitors should not allow that to affect how a couple separate or their parenting and financial choices.

Proposed divorce law

The top London divorce solicitors advise that the government is proposing to:
• Remove the ability of one spouse to contest or oppose a divorce in court;
• Make “irretrievable breakdown of a marriage” the sole ground for divorce with no need to prove one of the current five “facts”, such as unreasonable behaviour or adultery. Instead the spouse seeking the divorce will need to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown;
• Retain the two-stage divorce process of the decree nisi and the decree absolute;
• Ensure that there is a minimum timeframe of six months from start of the divorce petition stage to final decree absolute of divorce. This period is to ensure couples do not get divorced quickly, without appreciating the finality of their decision to divorce and to give time for reflection;
• Allow couples to jointly start divorce proceedings should they chose to do so.

Why change the divorce law?

Many organizations, including Resolution (the national organization of family and divorce lawyers) have campaigned for a change in divorce law. The campaign for change received more public support after the widely publicised case of Tini Owens.
Ms Owens, age 68, wanted to divorce her husband. Her husband objected and the Supreme Court said that, as she could not prove adultery or unreasonable behaviour, she could not get divorced. Ms Owens has to wait five years from the date of separation from her husband before she can apply for a divorce. Ms Owens can start fresh divorce proceedings in 2020.
To many in the public and media it seemed bizarre that in the 21st century Ms Owens could be kept in limbo until 2020, and unable to resolve financial matters arising from her separation, until she is able to start divorce proceedings based on the fact of five years separation. Ms Owens can be kept in financial limbo because the family court does not have the power to make full financial settlement orders until either a husband or a wife start divorce proceedings.

divorce law reform timescale

The government has said the new law will be introduced as soon as possible, when parliamentary time allows.
The government has also said that any divorce law reform will also cover dissolution of civil partnership proceedings to ensure that dissolution proceedings are also reformed and consistent with new divorce legislation.

Should you delay your divorce?

Some couples ask if they should delay a divorce in order to divorce on the fact of two years separation with consent, rather than get divorced now and have to cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Top London divorce solicitors anticipate that with the news of planned divorce law reform couples will question whether they should wait for the new legislation before starting divorce proceedings.
The best London divorce solicitors say that every family situation is different but:
• Starting divorce proceedings on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour does not have to increase animosity if there is a clear explanation of why you are having to include allegations in a petition as a “means to an end”;
• For some couples, and their children, delaying divorce proceedings can give a confused message about the possibility of a reconciliation, leaving the family in “limbo” for longer;
• In some situations, it is important to start divorce proceedings quickly. For example, if you fear that your spouse could start divorce proceedings in another country or you are concerned that a delay in starting divorce proceedings could increase or reduce the amount of any eventual financial settlement. For example, a business could grow in value or there could be a risk of a spouse being made bankrupt or receiving a pension lump sum and spending it.
The best London divorce solicitors recommend that separating couples take advice on the best option for them when it comes to the timing of divorce proceedings and to choose their divorce solicitors with care to avoid a war of words about the divorce petition, when the focus should be on children and their financial future.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

London based OTS Solicitors provide advice on all aspects of family law and have particular experience in international divorce cases because of their Immigration law expertise and global client base.
OTS Solicitors provide specialist divorce and family law advice tailored to individual personal and financial circumstances. The aim of the family law team at OTS Solicitors is to try to make sure that your separation or divorce is kept as amicable as possible. That keeps your legal costs down and helps you and the family cope with the relationship breakdown.
Please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London divorce solicitors who will be happy to help you.

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