SOLICITORS in Leamington are hailing the positive impact of the no-fault divorce law a year on from its introduction.
New legislation came into force in April 2022 allowing couples to individually or jointly approach a court to ask for a divorce without needing to blame one another.
Previously, couples had to be separated for two years with each other’s consent, or five years without, before they could apply for a divorce, otherwise they would need to blame the other party.
Ministry of Justice figures show that between April and June 2022 there were 33,234 divorce applications made under the new law.
Of these, 78 per cent were made by sole applicants and 22 per cent of applications were made jointly – an approach which was not possible before the new law came in.
In that period, there were 33,566 divorce applications made altogether under both the old and new laws – an increase of 22 per cent compared to the same months in 2021 – which represents the highest number of divorce applications in a decade.
Sophia Mellor, head of family law at Blythe Liggins Solicitors in Leamington, said the figures reflected her experience with her own clients, as many had been waiting for the new legislation to come in so they could jointly file for divorce.
She said the removal of a “culture of blame” was having the desired effect of allowing divorcing couples to focus on resolving issues amicably.
She said: “We saw a surge in divorce applications when the new law came in, but this was purely because many couples waited for the change in the law to proceed on a no-fault basis. Many of my clients were merely awaiting the new legislation.
“Certainly, the new law has proved successful and has helped clients focus on resolving issues, such as child arrangements and financial matters. It has enabled them to try to keep it amicable, rather than focus on unreasonable behaviour and so forth.
“The removal of this culture of blame has helped them in trying to work in a conciliatory way, which is beneficial to everyone, and this in my experience has also encouraged couples to mediate in particular in respect of the financial aspects of their divorce.”
Sophia’s colleague, family law specialist Louise Hunt, said the new law had had a marked change on the process of divorcing.
She said: “From my experience, I wouldn’t say there has been an increase in people getting divorced. What it has definitely impacted on is making the process a lot more straightforward and much more conciliatory.
“It has made what is a very difficult and emotional process a lot better for clients and easier for them to manage. For example, we no longer have to draft unreasonable behaviour particulars, which just increases tensions between parties. It has definitely been a success.”