The ‘New Normal’ is a phrase we have heard a lot over the last 12 months, usually in regard to how we do our shopping, take our children to school or travel to work. It has also meant that there has been a resetting process in many other aspects of life, and family law is one of them.
To provide further insight, Kerry Smith, Partner of K J Smith Solicitors, shares advice and knowledge of what has changed in the world of Family Law, and what it means for you.
COVID isn’t the only thing to have had an effect on our lives recently. Brexit was once a strong topic in homes up and down the country, and just because it is no longer the main concern of the news channels does not mean that it has not had an impact on our lives.
As we are no longer bound by the rules and regulations of the EU, making divorces that cross borders a little more complicated. If one half of your marriage has ties to an EU member state but wishes to have their case heard in the UK, they may be in for a lengthy process.
Grounds for divorce
Another thing that is set to change in the family law system is the introduction of a no-fault divorce. Current laws state that there must be an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage in order to get divorced, and the grounds for this must be proven with some burned of fault on one of the parties involved, creating added acrimony to an already difficult time.
The new law is yet to come into force, but it is expected to allow couples to make a statement of the breakdown of the marriage without the need for the detailed examinations of the reasons for this. It should also allow for joint applications for divorce, as well as removing the ability for one spouse to contest the divorce.
Those going through the divorce process will also find that they receive a Conditional Divorce Order and a Final Divorce Order in place of the Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute to create a friendlier system which is easier to understand.
Victims of domestic abuse can also expect to receive greater protections, as they will be given access to different building entrances, waiting rooms and protective screens in court to shield them from their abuser. In addition to this, local authorities will have a duty to support victims and their children in refuges and safe accommodation and preventing the ability for the perpetrator of abuse to cross-examine their victims in person in court.
It will now also be much easier for judges to issue barring orders and the definition of domestic abuse will be far more inclusive of emotional, coercive, controlling and economic abuse as well as physical violence.
The level of stress and trauma that many people experience during a divorce is unparalleled, and so these changes to family law will mean the advent of a ‘New Normal’ that is kinder, more understanding and less distressing for everyone involved, which can only be a good thing.
Author Kerry Smith is the head of Family Law at K J Smith Solicitors, she is experienced in all matters relating to divorce, civil partnerships, cohabitation disputes and collaborative law.