Is the "blame game" about to finally end?

Posted 08 June 2021 by Dawn Pennell

Is the “blame game” about to finally end?
At present couples need to demonstrate that their marriage/civil partnership has irretrievably broken down and they are forced to blame each other for the breakdown by saying that their spouse/civil partner has behaved unreasonably, has committed adultery (only in relation to marriages) or deserted them unless they prove that they have lived apart for two years with the other’s consent or five years without that consent.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has been passed which will change that.  The sole ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage or civil partnership remains but there will no longer be any requirement to establish one of the facts.  The Act introduces joint applications where the couple both agree that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.  Sole applicants will still be able to apply on their own if their partner does not agree.  It will remove the ability of the other spouse to contest a divorce or dissolution in cases where application is made by one party alone.  There will be a new minimum period of twenty weeks from the start of the proceedings to when the Conditional Order is pronounced.  It retains the six week period between Conditional Order and when the Final Order can be made.  These provisions will apply to marriages, civil partnerships and Judicial Separations.

We have been waiting for news on when the new Act will be implemented.  We were told that it could be Autumn this year.  However, on 7th June 2021 we learned that it should now come into force on 6th April 2022.  This announcement came in the form of a response to a Parliamentary question.  It is a later date than was originally indicated and it is understood that the delay is to allow time for necessary IT changes to be made to the Court online system.  Although there is going to be further delay at least now there is more certainty about the introduction of this reform and we will be able to advise clients accordingly.

Dawn Pennell is a Partner based at the Stalham office and advises on family law matters at Capron & Helliwell.   

To arrange an appointment for a fixed fee first appointment for family law advice ring Dawn on 01692-581231 or email her at

This article was written on 8 June 2021 and the law may change following this date.
Every case, of course, depends on its own circumstances so always take legal advice from a trusted professional about your own set of circumstances.

This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.

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