Changes to divorce law on the horizon

Married couples may soon be entitled to no-fault divorces and spouses will lose the right to defend and contest the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as standard, under proposals for a historic change of the divorce laws, currently being drawn up by the government. Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, David Gauke, is expected to soon announce a government consultation on “no-fault” divorce, in which, it is believed he will seek change for the existing fault-based system of establishing marriage breakdown to be abolished.

The government’s proposals are still being finalised, but it is believed that they would keep the sole basis for divorce due to irretrievable breakdown, but would change the current system by removing the requirement of a spouse to provide one of the current five facts set out in section 1(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The MoJ will also look to end the ability of a spouse to defend divorce proceedings, whilst consulting on the length of the divorce process. The anticipated changes to divorce law will be the largest changes to this area of law in 45 years, which will also apply to those with a civil partnership.

The MoJ has acknowledged that the current divorce system “…creates unnecessary antagonism” between parties. This position has been highlighted in the public gaze with the case of Owens progressing all the way to the Supreme Court and is ripe for change in many commentators’ eyes. Hunter and Uro have long supported Resolution has campaigned for a change to the law, arguing that the existing system “creates conflict” and calling for the “removal of the need to blame from the divorce process”. The government hopes that their proposals will reduce the level of conflict during the divorce process and protect children from the confrontational aspects of the current divorce system.

If you would like to discuss issues relating to your separation or divorce following the breakdown of a relationship, contact one of our expert solicitors today on 01234 88977 or 0207 177 9777 for a free consultation. Serving Bedford and London, our lawyers can help you with your family law matters.


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