Solicitors have welcomed a much-anticipated public consultation on introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce, currently being prepared by The Justice Secretary, David Gauke.
The Justice Secretary is reported to be preparing a consultation on reforming legislation that is nearly half a century old. Mr Gauke recently stated he was:
“increasingly persuaded … that what we have at the moment creates more antagonism than we really need”.
“I don’t think the best way of helping the institution of marriage is by putting bureaucratic hurdles in the way of a divorce.”
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, anyone seeking a divorce must either prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour, or , alternatively, if both sides agree, they can part after two years of separation. In the absence of consent or evidence of fault, applicants must wait until they have been living apart for five years.
Demands for change have mounted after the case of Tini Owens, when the Supreme Court ruled that the 68-year-old could not divorce her husband and escape her loveless marriage until a period of five years had elapsed. She and her husband, Hugh Owens, had been living separate lives since 2015.
Law Society President Christina Blacklaws said:
‘Making couples attribute fault in order to end their marriage can escalate the differences between them in an already charged situation. So we welcome news the Ministry of Justice is to consult on proposals to update the divorce law. It’s time to bring this law into the 21st century to reflect the society we live in and we look forwarding to working with government to ensure the reforms are fit for purpose.’
It is understood that a consultation will be published in the coming months.
At Ringrose Law we have a specialist Family Department at our offices in Spalding, Sleaford, Boston, Lincoln, Grantham and Newark who can assist with all aspects of divorce.