The big family law news in April this year was that couples no longer had to blame each other if they wanted to start a divorce before they had been separated for two years. The rationale was that couples could start the difficult process of divorce more amicably, in what are often already difficult circumstances.
Under the new rules people also have the option to start the application jointly, and initial guidance said that this should be the default position. However, this update from the Law Gazette reports that in April there were 2,810 joint applications and 10,268 sole applications, and that the proportions have remained similar up to July. There could be a few reasons for this. For example, communication and trust might have broken down at the end of a marriage, and people therefore might be reluctant to rely on the cooperation of the other person to progress their divorce. People might prefer to have control of the process, if they are concerned the other person might change their mind or they might be worried that things might be delayed due to both people needing to complete application forms. It will be interesting to see whether this trend changes in the future.
Take-up of a landmark provision designed to remove unnecessary finger-pointing from the divorce process remains comparatively low, according to government figures.
A system introducing provisions under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into force in April, meaning divorcing couples no longer have to assign blame for the breakdown of their marriage.
For the first time, couples can jointly apply for divorce, stating that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Ministry of Justice said the changes removed 'unnecessary finger-pointing and acrimony at a time where emotions are already running high, and spares children from witnessing their parents mudslinging.
However, government figures show sole applicants making up the overwhelming majority of divorce applications since April. In April, there were 2,810 joint applications and 10,268 sole applications. The proportions remain broadly similar up to July.