The biggest shake-up of divorce law in 50 years has been welcomed by a North Wales firm of solicitors.
The UK Government is set to introduce new legislation aimed at reducing conflict and supporting children and families.
Divorcing couples will soon no longer have to make allegations about each other’s conduct, after the landmark bill was introduced by Justice Secretary David Gauke in past weeks.
Stephen Warburton, from Rhyl and Colwyn Bay-based QualitySolicitors Edward Hughes, has been a family law solicitor for more than 20 years and believes this will have a major impact on the way cases are dealt with.
He says a cordial and collaborative approach to dealing with the breakdown of a marriage is one that should always be encouraged.
“I believe we are here to help people, that’s why I became a family law solicitor, so anything that makes this process less stressful for couples and their children has to be a good thing,” said Stephen.
“Divorce can take anything from five months to several years, so if the separation is acrimonious that can cause an even bigger burden.
“Here at Edward Hughes we are very fair and like to keep things amicable because it is such a stressful and emotional time, especially when family are involved.
“Why make it any more difficult than it already is? We encourage people to reach an agreement between themselves, which is the best course of action, the quickest, and ultimately the least expensive.”
He added: “Over the last 20 years I haven’t noticed a major increase in the number of divorces, though the statistics say otherwise.
“People should be aware that the divorce and financial side are two separate things and are dealt with as such. We do fixed fees, so at least they know how much it is going to cost from start to finish, which again takes away unnecessary stress.
“There are also weekly walk-in sessions in Rhyl and Colwyn Bay on Family issues and other legal matters, so if anyone has any questions or concerns please get in touch or come and see us.”
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill aims to make divorce less acrimonious – reforming 50-year-old laws – to ensure the process better supports couples to move forward as constructively as possible.
Justice Secretary Gauke said: “I’m proud to introduce this important legislation, which will make a genuine difference to many children and families.”
“By removing the unnecessary mud-slinging the current process can needlessly rake up, we’ll make sure the law plays its part in allowing couples to move on as amicably and constructively as possible.”
Specifically, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will:
- Replace the current requirement to evidence either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (couples can opt to make this a joint statement).
- Remove the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce, as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down.
- Introduces a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to confirmation to the court that a conditional order may be made, allowing greater opportunity for reflection and, where couples cannot reconcile and divorce is inevitable, agreeing practical arrangements for the future.
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