Family law update

Partner Debra Frazer

Partner Debra Frazer discusses anticipated changes to family law.

It is anticipated that the next 12 – 24 months or so will bring considerable changes for family lawyers.

Divorce online

Family lawyers can now make applications for divorce, on behalf of their clients, online.

Originally introduced by the government in May 2018, this system had only been open to individuals to use. Following a successful pilot scheme however the online platform is now available for use by family lawyers, which will be extremely useful and gives clients more options in choosing the right divorce process for them.

Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which will introduce “No-Fault “ divorce has started its parliamentary journey having received its first reading in the House of Lords on 7th January 2020. 

As David Young, Senior Partner, discussed in his blog on 18th December 2019, the progress of the Bill, which had originally been put before Parliament in June last year, had been interrupted by Brexit and then the recent General Election.

Now, however, the Bill is back on the parliamentary agenda and will make its way through the various stages before being given Royal Assent, which will then make it law.

The next stage is for there to be a second reading in the House of Lords on 5th February 2020. At present we do not know when the new law will be passed however some legal commentators suggest that it could be early 2021, whilst others believe it is more likely to take at least 18 months to become law.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Included in the Queen’s Speech on 19th December 2019 was reference to the re-introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill. Its aim is to improve the protection of victims and their children, by ensuring that they receive necessary support. In addition it aims to ensure that perpetrators of domestic abuse are brought to justice.

The Bill will also introduce a statutory definition of domestic abuse, which currently does not exist. The definition will include not only physical or sexual violence but also emotional, coercive or controlling and economic abuse.

As yet, we do not know when the Bill will be re-introduced to Parliament. However, given that the Bill has been welcomed by politicians from all parties it is to hoped that it will be introduced sooner rather than later.

For further information or advice about any family law matter:

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