No fault divorce - update

At the moment, a marriage can only be brought to an end if the marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'. There are five grounds to establish this:

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

Legislation has been tabled in the Commons - The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will be the biggest shake up of divorce laws in 50 years.

The Bill states that spouses will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably - and this can be a joint statement. Crucially, it would also prevent one partner form refusing a divorce if the other wanted it. The Bill introduces a minimum time of six months from the start of the proceedings (the petition) to the end of the marriage (issue of decree absolute).

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: 'Marriage will always be a vitally important institution in society, but when a relationship breaks down it cannot be right that the law adds fuel to the fire by incentivising couples to blame each other.'

'By removing the unnecessary mudslinging the current process can needlessly rake up, we'll make sure the law plays its part in allowing couples to move on as amicably and constructively as possible.'

The Bill is not yet law, but it is an important step on the way to the introduction of no-fault divorces.

To discuss this or any other family related matter, contact us.