The new no fault divorce process comes into effect on 6th April 2022. Under the new process the parties will simply say that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and, except in limited circumstances, the court will accept that statement and after a period of time, the marriage will be dissolved.
The FRC Efficiency Notice also brings changes as to how the court will deal with the financial process in divorce proceedings. The parties are encouraged to reach agreement both before issuing proceedings in the form of mediation, arbitration or using the collaborative process and after proceedings are issued. Prior to the First Directions Appointment, parties are going to have to provide to the court a jointly prepared case summary and asset schedule. The parties are going to have to provide a valuation of the family home, evidence of housing needs and details of their mortgage capacity. It is clear that the expectation is that the parties will use the First Directions Appointment to reach agreement.
To encourage transparency in family proceedings, not all hearings will take place in private.
Changes in family law generally take place at a snail’s pace and so to see these changes coming so soon in 2022 is a positive. Every family is unique and one size does not fit all. However, there are now many ways to try to deal with family disputes – mediation, arbitration, collaborative and through the court (although that should be a last resort) and hopefully this means more agreements, less costs and less distress.
Amanda Holland, Ashley James Solicitors
0121 355 4555/0121 702 1580 [email protected]