It is now official that the days of fault based divorce will be behind us and under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 couples will be permitted to divorce without apportioning blame. This will take effect from 6 April 2022. Couples will not be required to wait the minimum two years to separate on a no fault basis. The grounds to contest will be narrowed.
The benefit of this reform is that it reduces the hostility between the parties. Antagonistic particulars of behaviour will play no part in the petition for divorce under the new Act, thus setting a conciliatory tone for addressing the financial aspect of the case.
The simplification of the divorce process will allow parties to divert their attention and costs towards resolving key issues arising from the separation.
Whilst this may simplify the divorce process, the importance of obtaining legal advice to resolve a financial settlement should not be overlooked.
If you leave your financial matters unresolved or fail to ratify an agreement in a financial order, then a claim may remain live and your assets and pension unprotected, notwithstanding the divorce or the number of years which may have passed.
With the exception of a provision for spousal maintenance, a financial order is final. Often a party’s pension may be the largest asset in the marriage and care should be taken as to how to deal with this. Parties in the later stages of their working life need to consider the income they will have in retirement; Is a pension sharing order appropriate? Input from a pension actuary may be required and legal advice.
Parties need to consider how their future housing needs are met, or reduction in income, following separation, addressed.
So whereas divorce may be simplified, a financial settlement, which will provide for your future security, requires careful consideration and professional advice. The financial decisions you make will dictate your future financial security.
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