A step closer to no fault divorces
The justice secretary David Gauke announced (8 February) that no-fault divorces are to become law in the UK. This follows a consultation which took place in 2018 on reforming the law, and there was widespread support for changes to be made, to help make divorce less confrontational and acrimonious.
The new legislation will remove the need for a separating couple to wait for up to five years or allocate blame for the end of their marriage.
Currently under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England & Wales, anyone seeking a divorce must be able to prove that their partner is at fault for the end of the marriage through either adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour or if both parties agree after two years of separation. Otherwise they have to wait until they have been living apart for five years.
Julie Hobson, Partner at Gullands Solicitors comments: “For a long time there have been calls to change the divorce laws here in the UK for the wider benefit of the family, as if divorce is less made a less acrimonious process, former spouses could be encouraged to make more rational and reasonable decisions regarding the day to day care of any children of the marriage and the division of finances. It is hoped the introduction of no-fault divorce means couples are less likely to become enemies.”
The UK Government has been slow to make changes to its divorce laws which many now see as being out dated despite pressure from the legal sector. Sweden for example introduced no fault and mutual divorce back in 1973.
Julie Hobson concludes: “Anything which helps remove the anger, frustration and tension for divorcing couples can only be a good thing, allowing family solicitors to mediate and help an agreement to be reached. Rather than fighting over every point, efforts can be focused in the future on reaching a beneficial solution for all, to enable everyone to move on with their lives.”