Those waiting for the long anticipated Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill to bring an end to the current fault-based system, will have to wait a little bit longer, until autumn 2021 to be more precise.

Whilst it is progressive that the Bill finished its passage through the House of Commons yesterday, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland told MPs that the bill’s reforms will not come into force on Royal assent ‘because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation’.

Consideration first needs to be given to an amendment before the Bill receives Royal assent. Despite the Bill requiring some fine tuning, the brilliance of this landmark legislation cannot be ignored, as it demonstrates the ability of our legal system to change with the times and will ultimately lead to a more civilised and efficient divorce process.

Head of family at London firm Forsters, Jo Edwards said: ‘Along with most family lawyers, and indeed the general public, I was thrilled to see the bill conclude its passage in parliament this week after 30 years of campaigning by Resolution and others and, in recent years, many false starts. Despite vocal last-minute attempts by some backbench MPs to derail the bill, we finally have the prospect of a more civilised, dignified divorce process fit for the 21st century.

‘The fact that couples will be able to petition for divorce jointly is a hugely important step symbolically and the introduction of a minimum overall timeframe shows that this is not the “quickie divorce” that some have suggested. Because the detail of the rules around the new process, as well as court forms and the online portal, will need to be looked at in light of the new legislation, it is not likely that no-fault divorces will be a reality in England and Wales until late 2021 or even early 2022. For the 100,000 or so couples who divorce each year, they can’t come a day too soon.’

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