Changes to Divorce Law

The law surrounding divorce is about to change.

Currently if you wish to issue divorce proceedings against your spouse you have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that one of the following facts is relevant:

  1. Your spouse has committed adultery and is willing to admit to this.
  2. Your spouse has deserted you for a period of at least two years. This means that your spouse has left you without your agreement or good reason in order to end the relationship. You have to show that there was a mental intent to divorce throughout that time which can be difficult to prove and hence this fact is rarely relied on.
  3. You have been separated for at least two years and your spouse agrees to the divorce.
  4. You have been separated for at least 5 years. Whether or not your spouse consents to the divorce.
  5. Your spouse has acted unreasonably towards you. Such behaviour can include, to name but a few examples, physical, financial or verbal abuse, substance or alcohol abuse, or lack of intimacy.  You do not need your spouse’s consent to proceed with a divorce based on behaviour.

Most divorces proceed on the basis of either adultery or behaviour.  This ‘blame culture’ can cause animosity between the parties which in turn can add to difficulties in agreeing financial and children arrangements.

The new law will introduce a ‘no-fault divorce’.  The new law will replace the five facts with the requirement for a statement of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  It will not be possible for the divorce to be contested by the other party and also allows for a joint application for divorce by the parties.  Thus, it is hoped that the divorce may proceed as amicably as possible and for children and financial matters to be resolved in a similar amicable way.  This should mean that the costs to the parties can also be kept to a minimum.

If you require any advice in relation to the breakdown of your marriage, agreeing financial matters or assistance with resolving disputes over children arrangements, please contact our Family Law team on 01482 225566 to arrange a free initial telephone appointment with one of our expert family lawyers.

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