Ministers plan divorce law 'overhaul'

Ministers plan divorce law overhaul

Divorce laws in England and Wales are set to change under new government proposals seeking to allow couples to untie the knot more quickly and with less acrimony.

The changes could see the introduction of “no fault” divorces, in what has been described as a “landmark moment” by many divorce lawyers.

It follows the case of Tini Owens who wanted to divorce her husband of 40 years on the grounds she is unhappy. Her case was rejected by the Supreme Court due to her husband’s refusal to end their marriage.

Under the current law in England and Wales, unless people can prove their marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse's consent is to live apart for five years.

The government's proposals could see the concept of fault, or blame, removed from the process altogether. The changes could also see spouses lose the right to contest a divorce.

Reacting to the government’s proposals, Mandy Rimmer, partner in the family law department at Stephensons said:

“The proposals announced by the government to overhaul divorce laws in England and Wales are a significant step in the right direction. Our current laws paint an outdated picture of marriage and often add considerable pain, both emotional and financial, during divorce proceedings. The UK is playing catch-up with many other European countries who have already introduced legislation to make untying the knot a much more straightforward process, but this announcement will be warmly welcomed by thousands of couples seeking to end their marriage with greater ease and dignity than is currently possible.”