Long desired ‘No fault divorce' to be a reality
The Justice Secretary David Gauke announced today the archaic divorce laws will be reviewed to end hostility between divorcing couples.
The current position
Couples must divorce on the ground of ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’ established on one of the five following grounds:
- Two years separation with consent
- Five years separation
- Unreasonable behaviour
This means the petitioning party has to establish one of the above reasons to allow a divorce to proceed. As a result, parties enter a cycle of blame which can be difficult to escape right from the outset. This leads to problems with co-parenting or dealing with finances amicably.
Only recently the Supreme Court in the case of Owens v Owens reluctantly refused a wife’s application for a divorce recognising however that, ‘this was a matter for parliament’ to review the law.
After many years of lobbying, consultation papers, talks and the endless efforts of professionals involved within the family law arena the law is finally to be changed.
The future position
The only ground for divorce will be the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. With this being the sole ground it will relieve the unnecessary elements of conflict.
The reforms will be based on:
- Providing a statement of irretrievable breakdown to remove the need to evidence that statement by the fact
- Allowing for a joint petition for divorce
- Eliminating the ability to contest the divorce
- Afford a timeframe of six months between the petition to the final element (decree absolute) to allow time for the parties to reflect and, if they so wish, for the revocation of the petition.
These changes are to become effective when parliamentary time allows and we will endeavour to provide updates as and when they become available.
If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law, please contact a member of the Family Team in our Berkhamsted or Luton office.