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Divorce applications soar by 50% since new no-fault divorce laws introduced

Divorce applications have surged by as a lot as 50 per cent since no-fault laws have been introduced every week in the past, in accordance with new figures.

Data from the HM Courts & Tribunals Service reveals round 3,000 divorce requests have been made within the final week, which quantities to a mean of 600 applications per day. This is considerably larger than the typical of simply over 2,000 weekly applications seen final year.

The long-delayed Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 got here into pressure on Wednesday 6 April, after it was first promised in April 2018.

It eradicate the notion that one occasion within the couple is at fault or has dedicated some type of wrongdoing. As such, the application for divorce can now not be contested underneath the new system.

The change may also imply {couples} will now not be pressured to show they’ve been separated for 2 years, which was beforehand the one different solution to file for divorce with out assigning blame.

Carly Kinch, associate within the divorce and household crew at Stewarts, advised The Independent: “It’s no surprise there has been a flurry of applications since the new ‘no fault’ divorce regime was introduced last week.

“The change in the law has opened the doorway for couples to genuinely take a joint decision to divorce – an option that was previously unavailable unless there had been lengthy periods of separation. It is also no longer possible for one party to defend a divorce.”

Ms Kinch hailed the new divorce laws as a “long-awaited and much-welcomed landmark shift” within the means of getting a divorce.

She added: “It will be interesting to see, of these applications, how many were made on a joint basis, perhaps signalling a move and trend towards ‘conscious uncoupling’ versus those applications made on a sole basis by a party no longer afraid that their petition may be defended by the ‘blamed’ – and therefore likely more defensive – party.”

Sebastian Burrows, a managing associate at Stowe Family Law, mentioned the new laws present spouses with a “humane” solution to depart their marriages.

The earlier fault-based system necessitated “one-sided accusations of bad behaviour, adultery or years held in a broken marriage”, he mentioned.

Mr Burrows added: “While it is widely accepted that many preparing to divorce waited for the arrival of no-fault divorce, leading to a surge in applications once it was available, the significant numbers support the case of the law reform too – that people wanted to be able to divorce without hostility. Why else would people wait?

“Those that were trapped in unhappy and unwanted marriages – that don’t involve bad behaviour or affairs – have now been provided with a humane exit route, highlighting the unnecessary distress and delay caused by the old blame-based system.”

Sarah Anticoni, a associate at Charles Russell Speechlys, mentioned the preliminary rise in applications was “predictable” and forecast that demand would ease.

Will the annual figures for 2022 see a rise as a result of folks needed to keep away from the blame sport and begin the method off on a extra amicable footing? We should wait and see.

Hannah Gumbrill-Ward

She mentioned: “The initial surge in uptake in the first week of no-fault divorce was predictable as historical Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics demonstrate such blips when there are any changes in the law. Clearly, some couples who were contemplating divorce held back the actual issuing of the court process, choosing to wait to use the new system.

“With divorce statistics being static, the surge is unlikely to be sustained over the year ahead. Overall, it’s important to bear in mind that people don’t decide to divorce because of law changes.”

While Hannah Gumbrill-Ward, solicitor within the household crew at Winckworth Sherwood, mentioned the recent information seems to point out “some people were holding out for the introduction of no-fault divorce before taking the plunge”.

She added: “It will be interesting to see how these figures pan out across the whole quarter, and whether this initial flurry slows down and levels out. Will the annual figures for 2022 see an increase because people wanted to avoid the blame game and start the process off on a more amicable footing? We will have to wait and see.”

Data from the ONS reveals ladies have been extra more likely to provoke divorce proceedings towards males in England and Wales since 1949 – with some 62 per cent of divorces between women and men in 2019 requested by the spouse.

While this is identical quantity because the year earlier than, the gender disparity between women and men submitting for divorce has decreased in recent times – falling 10 proportion factors since the height of 1992 when wives filed for 72 per cent of divorces.

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