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Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 – why have the reforms been delayed again?

10th June 2021

Labelled as the biggest reforms of divorce law in the last fifty years, the implementation of the highly anticipated Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has been postponed until 6 April 2022.

The reforms, which are expected to significantly reduce the conflict between couples legally ending a marriage or civil partnership, were originally scheduled to come into effect in autumn 2021 – a time estimate that has since been described as ‘ambitious’ by Government officials.

Since being granted Royal Assent on 25 June 2020, the Ministry of Justice has been working alongside the Family Procedure Rule Committee (FPRC) to identify the necessary changes to the existing Family Procedure Rules and supporting practice directions.

Of course, reforms of this magnitude require large procedural changes to successfully implement, and so the FPRC is currently working to finalise these rules post consultation, which is one of the key reasons for the delays.

Meanwhile, officials are working to identify, design and build the necessary amendments to court forms and the new online digital divorce service, which is one of the biggest changes coming as part of the reforms.  This includes a consideration of the parliamentary commitments made during the process, so that couples can navigate divorce efficiently.

This commitment to ensuring the amended digital service is streamlined and makes the divorce process less traumatic for those involved, means that more time is needed to test and implement the appropriate system.

Given the importance of the reforms in reducing conflict from divorce, dissolution and separation, which can be especially damaging for children, the Ministry of Justice has expressed its intention to leave no stone unturned, hence the further delays.

Between now and April 2022, officials will also be using the time to strengthen signposting to family mediation as a means to resolve arrangements for children and the division of assets on divorce.

In the meantime, if you’re considering divorce or separation and you would like to discuss possible solutions to achieve a good outcome, then please get in touch with Mike Vale, a Family Law Consultant here at Ansons on 01543 267236 or email mvale@ansonssolicitors.com

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