Traditionally, Divorce Day lands on the first working day of January. This because couples who tried to resolve their issues over the festive period were unsuccessful, and decide to seek legal advice for divorce.
While the first week of January may have seen a surge in people enquiring for legal opinions, Kate Daly, founder of online divorce service Amicable, says she believes most couples will wait until 6 April when the new No-Fault Divorce bill becomes law.
The legislation, which was passed in June 2020, states either party to a marriage can request a divorce without having to cite blame.
Under current legislation, you may only be granted divorce from a spouse if one of five stated factors have caused a marriage to breakdown irretrievably.
These are unreasonable behaviour, adultery, five years of separation without consent, two years of separation with consent or desertion.
When seeking a divorce, the person bringing the action puts an element of blame on the other person for the breakdown. But in April, this will change.
“It’s the biggest reform to divorce law in 50 years and will mark a moment in history.” Daly said.
“The new legislation is hugely welcome as it allows couples to divorce together without having to cite blame. Under the new law, couples can jointly start their divorce, and state the reason as ‘no-fault’.”
While the bill will change the way people divorce in England and Wales forever, few people know about it, Daly added.
A recent survey carried out by Amicable found that nine out of 10 UK adults don’t understand what the changes mean.
Daly urged members of the public to educate themselves on how the bill could affect them. “For example, it’s worth noting that No Fault divorces will take at least six months compared with the current timeframe of three to five months,” she said.
Law firm Wright Hassall, which usually sees a huge increase in divorce enquiries in January, also predicts that it could see more clients in April.
Dal Heran, a family lawyer, said the bill could make the divorce process less stressful and more amicable.
“For most people seeking a divorce is going to be a very stressful and scary time in their life and having to relive memories and provide reasons for divorce can make the situation even more stressful,” Heran said.
“Therefore, having new legal grounds for divorce, which mean an individual can remove any blame from the divorce and divorce solely on the basis that their marriage has broken down can help make the divorce more amicable and reduce stress.”