Divorce update

We previously reported about the sad case of the wife who wanted to get divorced as she was in an unhappy marriage but her husband did not want the divorce.

Contrary to popular belief, there is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'. There are five ways to prove irretrievable breakdown:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years' separation with consent
  • Five years' separation without consent

A person cannot put forward their own adultery as a way of proving irretrievable breakdown.

The wife brought a case to try to establish that her husband's actions towards her amounted to 'unreasonable behaviour'. The Supreme Court held that she could not rely on her own adultery to bring the marriage to and end and that her husband's behaviour was not such as to amount to 'unreasonable behaviour'. This meant that the wife will have to wait until 2020 to get a divorce.  She will then be able to rely on five years' separation without consent to establish irretrievable breakdown on the marriage.

Following the case, the Justice Secretary has just announced that divorce law will be changed to allow for 'no fault' divorce. This means that divorcing couples will no longer have to agree to separate or to allocate blame to get a divorce. It is hoped that this will have a positive effect on the process for divorcing couples and their children, if any.

The new legislation could be introduced as early as May 2019 – we will report further as and when it is introduced.

Getting a divorce can often be the easy part of a marriage breakdown. Dealing with the split of the finances between the parties can be very difficult. It is reported that many divorcing spouses fail to take account of their spouse's pension provision which can often be a valuable asset.

If you want to discuss this or any other matrimonial related matter, contact us.