I find that writing this is bitter-sweet, on one hand the MoJ have confirmed that they are working towards a commencement date of 6 April 2022 for the implementation of 'no-fault' divorce which gives a date to work towards and some certainty to people awaiting these changes. On the other hand I have spoken to many individuals who are keen to benefit from the changes and separate amicably but now find themselves in a position wherein they must delay their plans.
A large majority of new instructions find the prospect of declaring unreasonable behaviour as unpalatable and are looking for a less acrimonious route to separation. Whilst they may want to await the changes next year, I seek to remind them that drafting a petition does not have to be pages and pages of 'unreasonable' behaviour and instead can be handled with compassion and dignity, agreed between the parties so that whilst the legal threshold is met, it is done so in such a way that enables both parties to be somewhat in control of their petition.
I also like to remind my client's that 'unreasonable' behaviour is a subjective test and what is unreasonable to one person may not be to another and vice versa. Working late; lack of communication; lack of shared hobbies or interests could be considered unreasonable depending on the circumstances and an individuals view point.
In a written response to a parliamentary question, courts minister Chris Philp MP said the initial deadline of this autumn for implementing the provisions of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 must be put back. The Ministry of Justice is now working on a commencement date of 6 April 2022.