We are backing plans by the government to overhaul the current divorce laws in favour of a ‘no-fault’ divorce option.
What are the current rules regarding divorce?
Under current legislation (the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales), divorcing couples must either blame one party for the divorce citing either adultery or unreasonable behaviour or they must wait until they have been legally separated for a minimum of two years. It is thought that the need to apportion blame to one party can often cause unnecessary conflict and can make even the most amicable separations difficult.
The government has announced plans to launch a public consultation on whether no-fault divorces should be introduced. If plans are confirmed, it would be the first time in almost 50 years that the divorce laws will have been modernised.
Speaking about the news, family lawyer Joanne Matthews said:
“We fully support these proposals – for too long, the divorce laws in England and Wales have caused needless conflict amongst families. These conflicts not only make a difficult situation much harder than it needs to be, but they can cause lasting damage to family relationships, undermining efforts to resolve issues outside of the court system.”
“It was only a month ago that we heard about the case of Tini Owens, where the Supreme Court rejected her appeal to divorce her husband until a period of five years had elapsed. It shouldn’t be the case that couples are forced to remain married because one party refuses to agree. We look forward to hearing more details of the proposed plans and hope that these reforms are implemented as soon as possible.”
Whilst details of the public consultation are yet to be formally announced, the news has been widely praised by prominent campaigners including the Law Society and family law organisation Resolution who stated that this “has the potential to be a landmark moment for divorce law in England and Wales.”
According to Resolution, in 2015, 60% of divorces in England and Wales were granted on adultery or unreasonable behaviour, compared to just 6% of divorces in Scotland.