Associate solicitor Gemma Kemp, in our leading Family law team, highlights recent changes to the to the law surrounding surrogacy and single parents.
Several clients have asked me recently for more information about the government’s plans to reform the current divorce process by removing the ‘fault’ element. Justice secretary, David Gauke, pledged in April this year to make these changes but no timescales were given as to when the process to turn this promise into law would begin. However, I was interested to see that ‘The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill’ received its first reading on 13 June 2019. It will receive its second reading on a date to be announced.
The Bill seeks to establish a 'no fault' divorce system by removing the current requirement to provide evidence of either a conduct or separation 'fact' combined with the statement that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. The potential to contest a divorce will be removed and there will be a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to confirmation to the court that a conditional order may be made. This should provide an opportunity for couples to both reflect on whether the relationship can be reconciled and where it cannot, discuss and agree practical arrangements in terms of their children and finances moving forward.
Our family team are all members of Resolution, a national group of family lawyers who commit to trying to deal with matters in a conciliatory manner where possible. The chair of Resolution, Margaret Heathcote has said of this potential change in the law: 'Every day, our members are helping people through separation, taking a constructive, non-confrontational approach in line with our code of practice. However, because of our outdated divorce laws, they’ve been working with one arm tied behind their backs.'
We will continue to watch the progress of the Bill with interest and hope that we will shortly have some definite timescales in relation the introduction of this legislation and the potentially positive changes that it will bring to this area of law.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.