Resolution* has been campaigning for divorce law reform for over 30 years. That is longer than I have been on the planet. I wonder if at times the push for what is now being billed as the most significant overhaul of this area of the law in the last 50 years might have felt quite as hopeless and absurd as the world of Samuel Beckett. But the good news is that, unlike Godot, Beckett's eponymous and ultimately elusive character, divorce law reform IS finally here - well not quite…
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which will allow parties in a marriage to seek a divorce (either jointly or individually) without having to allege blame (or otherwise wait for at least two years), received Royal Assent in June 2020. It had been anticipated that the Act would be implemented in the Autumn of 2021. However it was revealed by way of a written response to parliamentary questions this week that the Ministry of Justice is now instead working towards a later commencement date of April 2022.
This will come as a blow to those who have been waiting for the opportunity to take advantage of the path paved by the new Act towards a less hostile, more constructive divorce and separation, particularly if tensions have been running high during more than a year of intermittent lockdowns. On the other hand, those for whom it is an important part of the process to get down on record their perceived reasons for the relationship breakdown, be it their spouse's adultery or unreasonable behaviour, are now afforded an extension to get a divorce underway until the spring of next year.
* For the uninitiated, an organisation of family justice professionals whose stated objective is to support families to achieve constructive outcomes.