The government has today issued a press release announcing its commitment to reforming divorce law as soon as Parliamentary time will allow. The reforms will remove the need for couples to wait 2 years after separating and fault-based petitions.
Justice Secretary, David Gauke, said:
“Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances. While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples. So I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good.”
Proposals for changes to the existing law include:
- retaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce
- replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a ‘fact’ around behaviour or separation with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown
- retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute
- creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option for one party to initiate the process
- removing the ability to contest a divorce
- introducing a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to final divorce.
There have been calls to reform UK divorce law for many years, reaching their peak in 2018 following a wife’s unsuccessful petition for divorce based upon her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes, backed Tini Owens’ legal challenge to the Supreme Court which was unfortunately unsuccessful.
Tracy Lambert, Partner at Tozers comments:
“This latest press release signals the start of a long awaited reform of the current law which only enables separated couples, even those whose separation was mutually decided, to divorce after a period of 2 years’ apart unless one party is blamed for the relationship breakdown. It is positive to see that an end to the divorce blame game could soon be here.”
If you need specialist legal advice on divorce or separation please contact our experienced team of family law solicitors on 01392 207020 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for your free initial consultation.