Contrary to critics decrying no-fault divorce for hastening the demise of marriage, we do not expect the new laws to prompt a long-term rise in the divorce rate. While the number of divorces in April 2023 was double the April 2022 figure, this was likely a temporary spike driven by couples who had been waiting to take advantage of the new no-fault provisions.
The process to apply for a divorce has been streamlined, reducing the early administrative work about who will file, and the basis on which they will do so. It provides separating couples with more certainty and less stress from the outset of their divorce proceedings, encouraging an amicable rather than adversarial approach to achieving fair financial and child agreements.
We have seen an increase in couples using mediation to agree a financial settlement and arrangements relating to their children, rather than heading to the courts, and we expect this trend to continue.
The government is also considering a significant change to the role of mediation within the resolution of disputes to make it mandatory for court users to have attended mediation, suggesting a strengthening of the current use of Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings and more judicial powers to refer into DR processes.
For a reluctant or litigious respondent to the divorce, there is certainly far less opportunity to slow the process down, because it is no longer possible to defend a divorce by objecting to the particulars of a petition.
Meanwhile, the government has recently announced a Law Commission review into the law governing financial provision on divorce. While we await the details of any proposals for reform, any change would need to be the subject of careful consideration, as the current framework provides a discretion that protects from unfair outcomes.
About Peter Burgess
Peter is one of the two founding partners at Burgess Mee Family Law.
Having trained at top family law firm Withers LLP, Peter founded Burgess Mee with in 2013, where he advises on the full spectrum of family law issues across the firm’s three offices. Peter is also an FMC accredited mediator.
Get in touch with Peter today:
- Call on – 0203 824 9952