In November of last year I wrote an asking was it time to change our outdated divorce laws (in place since 1973) and to introduce “No Fault” Divorces. The current fault-based divorce system is seen by many to exacerbate the stress and tension of an already highly stressful time. There were concerns that it exposed children to the damaging impact of ongoing conflict between their parents both during the divorce and afterwards. Fault, blame and having to prove 2 or 5 years separation were not seen to be helping couples move on with their lives.
The Government has finally listened to the calls for change and earlier this month announced that legislation will be introduced as soon as parliament time allows to introduce a “No Fault Divorce “. The new law would extend the grounds for divorce while retaining the underlying concept for pursuit of divorce – that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. The need for evidence of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour would be replaced by a requirement for a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
The new law would still keep the two stages of divorce -Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute but it would introduce a new six month minimum time frame to allow a couple to “reflect” on their decision. At the end of this period the applicant will be required to continue to affirm their decision to seek a divorce before the divorce is granted. The proposed law would also importantly remove the power of the defendant (the other spouse) to resist a divorce. There will also be an option for a joint application for divorce.
Family Law Solicitor