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Legal Eagle Q & A: Divorce in the UK and how it is changing
Question – I have read about the divorce laws changing, do the changes affect me now?
Answer – Not yet. Parliament is currently debating the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. It has gone through certain stages of the process but will take time to become an Act of Parliament.
Question – How will divorce be affected?
Answer – The Bill will bring in sweeping changes to laws that have been in place since the late 1960s. The key change is that separating couples may bring a divorce petition without having to raise allegations of unreasonable behaviour/adultery or without having to wait 2 years as at present. For the first time, both spouses (or civil partners) will be able to bring a petition jointly. It is intended to make it more streamlined and sensible process without the animosity that can exist.
Question – When are the changes likely to happen?
Answer - It is likely the Bill will be made law by around February 2020 but it may actually be brought into effect after that. The dates are not clear at the moment.
Question – I have been married for less than a year, I want to divorce now, but I have read that I may have to wait a year - is that right and will that change?
Answer – You will have to wait 1 year and a day after the marriage before presenting a divorce petition to the court. That is not going to be changed by the new law. A nullity petition may be an option but that needs specialist advice.
Question – Will I still get my Decree Absolute at the end?
Answer - Yes. That is applied for at the end of the process, but the Bill introduces changes of terminology – the Decree Absolute will be called a (Final) Divorce Order.
This Q & A is by Melinda Giles at Giles Wilson Solicitors.