• March 2, 2024
 Court reduces mandatory divorce waiting period for client with ‘life-limiting health conditions’

Court reduces mandatory divorce waiting period for client with ‘life-limiting health conditions’

National firm Michelmores announced that it had “successfully applied to the court to shorten the 20-week window for its client, who has life-limiting health conditions”, as reported in the Law Society Gazette.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into force in April last year and allows couples to divorce without assigning blame for the breakdown of the relationship for the first time, enabling a much quicker and straightforward divorce process.

Also, last year, Hannah Gumbrill-Ward, Family solicitor at Winckworth Sherwood, said that “Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) had confirmed during an industry event that it received about 3,000 applications for divorce since the new law was introduced”.

Earlier this year marked the one year anniversary of the changes to the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act. There were 24,273 divorce applications made between October and December 2022 under the new legislation, an increase of 5% from the same quarter in 2021, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Under the new legislation, there is a mandatory 20-week waiting period beginning on the date that the application is issues by the court.

This period was shortened due to a client with serious health issues in “what may be as the first case of its kind since the reforms came into force last year”.

Sarah Green, a partner in the family team, told the Gazette that the she had a feeling that the firm could shorten the timeframe. She said:

“Off the back of that, I thought ‘what have we got to lose, we might as well give it a go’. So, I went back to basics. Where can I find the answer? The answer is usually in statute”.

The Gazette also stated:

“Section 1(8) of the Matrimonial Causes Act states that the court, dealing with a particular case, can shorten the 20-week period. The legislation does not provide a list of reasons why an exception can be made.

Green worked on the basis that under the old regime, applications could be made to shorten the time between a decree nisi and decree absolute – six weeks and one day – on health grounds.”

Katie Johnson, Digital Journalist, Today's Media

Digital Journalist, Today's Media

Contact: katie.johnson@todaysmedia.co.uk


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