Never Mind “Shark Week” – What About “Divorce Week”?
Those of us who practice Family Law know that early January is a time when many struggling couples finally “pull the plug” on their relationships, and separate as a first step towards starting divorce proceedings. They may have made some last-ditch efforts to make it work through the Christmas holidays – maybe for the sake of the kids. Or, they may have been distracted during the family-oriented festive season. But once the holiday hoopla is over, the focus returns to their unfixable relationship problems.
Informally, we can call this “divorce season”, meaning the time of year when there’s an upsurge in new divorce cases in our office.
But it’s not necessarily the same in other countries. In a recent article about changes to the law in the United Kingdom and Wales, we might be in the middle of “divorce day” or “divorce week” in those countries, as we speak.
On April 6, 2022, a new U.K. no-fault divorce regime came into force, under the wide-ranging amendments enacted by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, 2020. Now, either spouse in a marriage can ask for a divorce without having to attribute blame – which is big shift from the former requirements, and the most significant reform of the U.K. divorce law in 50 years.
Similar to the current divorce regime in Canada, the old version of the U.K. legislation stipulated that spouses could only divorce if the marriage had irretrievably broken down, as evidenced by one of five conditions. (They included: unreasonable behaviour, adultery, five years of separation without consent, two years of separation with consent, or two years of desertion).
The requirement to show one of these five elements has now been removed. This frees up unhappy separated couples who want to divorce, and in turn will likely make divorce easier, and less acrimonious and stressful.
And with the recent passage of the new law on April 6, 2022, lawyers in that country expect an upsurge in new divorce application. Hence the “divorce week” predictions.
Is Canada ready for no-fault divorce? What are your thoughts?