The government has confirmed that legislation introducing no-fault divorce is to be introduced after launching a consultation last autumn on reforming the law. This reform would remove the need for separating couples to wait for years or allocate blame in order to divorce.
Under the current divorce law, if a couple want to divorce, one party must petition the court demonstrating that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This is evidenced by establishing one of the relevant five facts which are:
- Unreasonable behaviour (a subjective test as to whether or not it is unreasonable to expect one party to continue living with the other
- Two years separation with the consent of the other party
- Five years separation (in the absence of either the consent of the other party or evidence of fault)
- Desertion (antiquated and rarely used as proof of mental intent is required)
The pressure to change the law on divorce has been mounting for a long time, but was highlighted by the case of Tina Owens when the Supreme Court ruled in July 2018 that she could not divorce her husband until a period of five years had elapsed, as in the opinion of the judges, she had not proved any other grounds.
If there is no need to apportion blame or to wait for at least two years, separation and divorce hopefully will be a far less acrimonious process for many.
The avoidance of mud-slinging could also make resolving financial matters and making arrangements for children much less stressful and enable easier co-parenting for the future.
No-fault divorce could also see the ending of a marriage move from a relatively expensive court-based exercise to a largely administrative one, making the divorce process itself potentially quicker and cheaper.
Whilst the government get ready to introduce no-fault divorce and solicitors get ready to implement it, our specialist team of family solicitors remain on hand to navigate and support you through the strain of the existing divorce process. as quickly and painlessly as possible. If you require legal advice please call us on 0175 321 6399.
By Karen Atkins, partner and Hasina Desai, graduate paralegal