Contested matrimonial case helps students understand reforms to divorce law

Clinic’s Family solicitor Philippa Bruce draws on the work done to engage students in discussion on divorce law reform.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into force on 6 April 2022. At first glance, the changes may seem unimportant but enabled learning about the problems from the experience of a Clinic client during COVID-19.

As the client tried to obtain a divorce under the old system, students were able to appreciate how significant the reforms are for domestic abuse victims. The client got their divorce, but the whole process took almost two years, as the Respondent defended the petition on the basis that the couple still loved one another and could reconcile, despite our client having fled to a refuge due to emotional abuse.

Under the new rules, the Respondent wouldn’t have been able to defend the divorce, sparing the client a lot of emotional distress and delay.