Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996
Safeguards to ensure applicant’s awareness of alternatives to divorce proceedings and to assist attempts at reconciliation.
6.— (1) In this section “ the applicant” means a person who has applied, is applying or proposes to apply to the court for the grant of a decree of divorce.
(2) If a solicitor is acting for the applicant, the solicitor shall, prior to the institution of the proceedings concerned under section 5 —
( a) discuss with the applicant the possibility of a reconciliation and give to him or her the names and addresses of persons qualified to help to effect a reconciliation between spouses who have become estranged,
( b) discuss with the applicant the possibility of engaging in mediation to help to effect a separation (if the spouses are not separated) or a divorce on a basis agreed between the applicant and the other spouse F7 [ , give to the applicant the names and addresses of persons who provide a mediation service for spouses who have become estranged and inform the applicant of the matters referred to in sections 10 and 11 of the Mediation Act 2017 ], and
( c) discuss with the applicant the possibility (where appropriate) of effecting a separation by means of a deed or agreement in writing executed or made by the applicant and the other spouse and providing for their separation.
(3) Such a solicitor shall also ensure that the applicant is aware of judicial separation as an alternative to divorce where a decree of judicial separation in relation to the applicant and the other spouse is not in force.
(4) If a solicitor is acting for the applicant—
( a) the originating document by which the proceedings under section 5 are instituted shall be accompanied by a F7 [ statutory declaration made by the solicitor ] indicating, if it be the case, that he or she has complied with subsection (2) and, if appropriate, subsection (3) in relation to the matter and, if the document is not so accompanied, the court may adjourn the proceedings for such period as it considers reasonable to enable the solicitor to engage in the discussions specified in subsection (2), and, if appropriate, to make the applicant aware of judicial separation,
( b) if the solicitor has complied with paragraph (a), any copy of the originating document aforesaid served on any person or left in an office of the court shall be accompanied by a copy of the F7 [ statutory declaration ] aforesaid.
(5) F8 [ … ]
(6) The Minister may make regulations to allow for the establishment of a Register of Professional Organisations whose members are qualified to assist the parties involved in effecting a reconciliation, such register to show the names of members of those organisations and procedures to be put in place for the organisations involved to regularly update the membership lists.