Partner Claire Dyer, in our leading Family law team, asks if progress on the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Bill and reform will be made in 2020.
As we pack away the festive decorations and immerse ourselves into the New Year, thoughts turn to what changes may be in store for us as 2020 progresses.
Many family law professionals were cheered to see that on 19 December 2019, the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Bill was once again included in the Queen’s speech with the promise that the Bill will ‘remove issues that create conflict within the divorce process to strengthen family support’.
The intention of the Bill remains as expected i.e. to retain the ground of ‘irretrievable breakdown’ but the current requirement for either a period of separation of at least 2 years or an allegation of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour to be made against one of the spouses, will be removed. There will be a period of 20 weeks between the commencement of a divorce and applying for a ‘conditional order’ and a new option for a joint application to be made in cases where the decision to divorce is a mutual one.
No timescales have been provided as to when the Bill may be progressed. However, the general consensus is that this reform is long overdue so family lawyers will be crossing their fingers that 2020 is the year when real progress is finally made.
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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.