Family lawyers at Stone King LLP have welcomed new divorce laws coming into force next month.

The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Bill becomes law on April 6, and aims to reduce conflict at what is usually a very stressful time.

It is the biggest change in divorce law in nearly 50 years, and means that separating couples do not need to blame each other for the breakdown in the marriage in order to obtain a divorce.

The aim of the new law is to avoid acrimony, conflict and cost, and to ensure that children can be sheltered from any potential impact.

Caroline Fell, a partner in the Family Law Team at Stone King, said the team has seen many enquiries from couples who wish to take a more conciliatory approach to divorce, looking to bring their marriage to an end without the need to rely on allegations of adultery or unreasonable behaviour in order to do so.

She said: “Many of our clients recognise that their relationship has broken down but that they wish to continue to co-parent and therefore minimise any conflict between them.  The new law will greatly assist in this.”

Any couples wishing to divorce under the existing system have until 31 March 2022 to lodge their applications.  A new online portal will then enable new applications to be issued from 6 April 2022.

Partner Rebecca Eels said the new legislation was welcome and comes after campaigning by lawyers across the country.

“The new legislation has key changes in order to simplify the process,” she said.

“Irretrievable breakdown remains as the sole ground for divorce but the need to provide evidence of separation or conduct by the other party has been removed.

“Instead all that is required is a statement confirming irretrievable breakdown.

“There will now only be very specific circumstances in which a divorce petition can be argued against.

“These changes do not mean divorce is now an easy process.

“While it has been simplified it can still be an emotional process.

“What the changes mean are that conflict should be reduced as couples no longer have to apportion blame and that can only be a good thing, particularly if children are involved.”

The new legislation also means it is now possible for both of the parties to make an application together, so one person does not have to petition the other, as is the current situation.

The language used has also been modernised with outdated terms such as Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute removed and replaced by terms such as Conditional Order and Final Order.