Making separating couples wait 6 months before their divorce is finalised is an “unacceptable delay” for those who do not have children.
The Ministry of Justice who have just finished a consultation on reforming divorce, want to test a minimum 6 month wait to grant the Decree Absolute after the Decree Nisi has been granted.
The Ministry says:
“we think this allows a sufficient period for most couples to consider the implications of divorce and reach agreement on practical arrangements, whilst not being so long a period of uncertainty that it would have a long term effect on children”.
However, the Bar Counsel, in its consultation response, questions the need to extend the minimum period, which is currently 6 weeks and 1 day.
The bar says 6 months will be too long for couples who do not have children or who have straight forward financial affairs:
“It is not clear whether there is empirical or anecdotal evidence that the current period of 6 weeks and 1 day is too short period of time and what the reasoning is for extending it to 6 months. The period is a minimum and Decree Absolute will not be made until the Court is satisfied that to make Decree Absolute will not cause hardship and, in the case of a marriage with dependant children, that satisfactory arrangements have been made for the children”.
The Bar says the proposal
“ may not have sufficient weight to the serious consideration that spouses give to petitioning for divorce at the outset rather than in the period of Nisi and Absolute”.
Elsewhere, the Bar says the Government’s proposal to get rid of the requirement for a divorcing spouse to evidence one or more of 5sub-grounds will address an inconsistency between marriage and civil partnerships.
The Bar points out that adultery is a ground for divorce in marriage but not in civil partnerships for example.
The Ministry’s consultation closed on Monday last admit wide spread cause for report.