Following a debate in the House of Commons, a bill introducing “no-fault” divorces in England and Wales has been backed by MPs. This is something our family solicitors have been in favour of for some time.
At present, in order to start divorce proceedings immediately, one spouse has to allege that the other has committed adultery, behaved unreasonably or has deserted them. Such allegations can cause unnecessary conflict between the parties which may lead to added difficulties in resolving financial mattes and issues relating to the children in the family.
If a husband and wife wish to divorce on a more amicable basis, they currently have to wait until they have been separated for 2 years and must obtain the other party’s consent. If the other party does not consent to the divorce, on the basis of 2 years separation, it is necessary to wait until there has been a separation of at least 5 years before the divorce can proceed. This can mean that financial matters remain unresolved leaving the parties in financial limbo.
Under the proposed law, one party merely has to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. There is no blame attached to the breakdown of the marriage. The bill also introduces a new option, allowing couples to jointly apply for a divorce, where the decision to separate is a mutual one.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which has been passed by the House of Lords, also removes the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce. Divorce proceedings will still be challengeable on certain grounds including fraud and coercion. Currently fewer than 2% of divorce cases are contested.
Under the proposals, there must be a minimum six-month period between the lodging of a petition to the divorce being made final.
If your marriage has broken down and you wish to seek legal advice, contact our expert team on 01482 225566 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.