What has changed for divorce in 2017? We will review the changes and assess their likely impact.
The most significant change is that there is a new style Divorce Petition! The court was sick of having to send back incorrectly filled in Divorce Petitions and so have changed the look and style of this document which came into force in September this year. It is planned that this new and easier form will be available to be filled in online in the spring/summer 2018 and lead to a reduction in legal costs.
What does the new form look like
The new form has clearly laid out questions requiring just a few words and some tick boxes. The language is still at times a little tricky but it is definitely and improvement, and the guidance notes written alongside the questions help to clarify what is needed in each section.
The reception so far has been positive but it will take time to see whether the number of times the Divorce Petitions are sent back actually falls and whether fewer people are turning to lawyers.
Are there any other changes to the forms?
There are several other changes but there are 4 changes to take note of:
- Documents to accompany the petition – Now you must provide the original marriage certificates when you submit a divorce petition. If you do not, you must make a formal application to the court for permission at a cost of £155.
- Name and contact details – You need to be clearer about any name changes and it is easier to request that your contact details are kept confidential.
- Details of marriage/civil partnership – The new forms asks the appellant to confirm that details (names and dates) are correct.
- Statement of case – The statement of case is now simpler and requires fewer details about why you are divorcing.
What has not changed?
No fault-divorce!! We are still in the absurd situation where someone has to be blamed for the breakup of the marriage. There has been a recent challenge to this which failed and it is due to be challenged again in 2018. Watch this space.
Other changes in 2018
The Divorce (Financial Provisions) Bill is due to progress to the next stage in the House of Lords, which means it is one stage closer to becoming a new law. The aim of the law is to make the financial split more certain and less open to interpretation by the judge.
The main changes being looked at are:
- Making pre and post nuptial agreements more binding;
- To make the division of assets acquired after the marriage a starting point and to exclude pre=-marital assets from the financial separation.
- To make it harder for spouses to claim life-long maintenance by having stricter criteria for when this is acceptable and capping the length of the maintenance term.
For more on legal aspects of divorce, click here.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.