Are reports in the press over the last week or so that there is a spike in the number of couples separating or seeking divorce true? Or is this just a page filler for when there is little else to occupy the press?
Only too often this will be the sad reality for some couples. Enduring the forced confinement of family for the duration of the Christmas break, or for those making a fresh start following a New Year’s resolution; seeking a divorce or looking to formalise a separation will be one of their priorities.
It is not just family lawyers that see increased activity – estate agents see more people looking for rental property, and mediators and counsellors see their diaries filling up.
For those unsure of the future, it is always a good idea to find out what your options are and to get advice on how a separation can affect your finances or how arrangements for the children can be agreed.
An increasing number of my clients ask me about “no fault” divorces that have again been widely reported in the press.
With a new Parliament comes a new timetable for the introduction, debate and passing of new Bills. Some of these Bills are not all that new, and certainly the Bill to introduce “no fault” divorces is no stranger to the debating halls of Parliament. It was first introduced in July 2018 and after faltering over the past 18 months, has now been given new life and will continue its steady progress through parliament with its first reading having taken place in the House of Lords on 7 January 2020, although no date has been given yet when it will be debated further.
However much the press supports this move away from “blame” when a marriage ends, the new proposal does not look as if it will be any quicker. There is likely to be a compulsory waiting time of up to 26 weeks at various stages in the process. It is currently taking around 6 months to complete a divorce, mostly due to the sheer number of divorces passing through the court.
For those couples who have separated recently, or separate in the months to come, the change in law will not have come in and it may be some time yet before we start to see the first “no fault” divorces come through the courts.
No fault divorces will not remove the need to resolve the division of assets following a divorce but some of these difficulties can be overcome by having a pre-nuptial agreement or by attending mediation when a couple first separates. It often helps to know where you stand before taking these steps.
But on the bright side, there are still more couples getting married or entering Civil Partnerships than get divorced, with the most popular month for weddings being August.
So if you are planning on an August wedding or Civil Partnership, or coming to the end of a relationship, you should get some expert advice on where you stand about entering the new phase of your life.
Whatever your circumstances, speak to one of our experienced family lawyers at Biscoes who will be able to advise you on your best options.