Divorce Law Reforms


19 September 2018

By Farhad Islam

In my blog of 26 July 2018, I reported on calls for a reform of divorce law after Mrs Owens was forced to remain in a marriage that was not working because the grounds, that  she was unhappy, were insufficient for a divorce in England and Wales.

Those long-awaited calls for reform have now been answered. Divorce laws in England and Wales are set to be overhauled under government plans seeking to allow couples to split up more quickly and with less acrimony.

Justice Secretary David Gauke, who has said the system creates "unnecessary antagonism", is to begin a consultation on introducing "no-fault" divorces.

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. Spouses could lose the right to contest a divorce, as part of the reform.

Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent, comments:

"Many believe that when divorcing couples are being torn apart emotionally and financially, and trying to make living arrangements for their children, assigning blame to one party can only exacerbate an already stressful process."

"There will be some who fear such a system will undermine marriage, but many believe it could remove a layer of stress and anxiety from one of life's most traumatic experiences."

Speaking in the House of Lords, Baroness Vere of Norbiton said the call for reform after recent judgements had been noted and the lord chancellor was "sympathetic" to the argument for reform.

Nigel Shepherd, chairman of the national family lawyer's organisation Resolution, said that couples had been forced "into needless acrimony and conflict" under the current system, "to satisfy an outdated legal requirement".

Gepp Solicitors have a wealth of experience in family law, having just celebrated their 250th year in business. Email family@gepp.co.uk or call 01245 228106 today to speak to one of our experts.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.