The archaic divorce laws have been a ‘hot topic’ as of late and the need for change has finally received the publicity it deserves. The case of Owen v Owen has highlighted the societal need for a ‘no fault’ based divorce.
In response, the government has launched a consultation proposing the removal of ‘fault’ with Justice Secretary David Gauke inter-alia stating:
“We think that the blame game that currently exists helps nobody. It creates unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already trying time for couples…”
The current legal position, in order for individuals to prove the marriage has broken down irretrievably, means they can rely upon: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation (with consent of the other party) or five years separation (without consent).
The proposed changes are a work in progress and pending further consultation (with a proposed 12 week consultation). However, initial indications are that the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage could be the sole ground for a divorce. Further, there is also consideration to remove the requirement for a party to show evidence of the other party’s conduct or the period they have lived apart. Furthermore, there is a consideration to propose a new notification process where one or both parties can notify the court of their intention to divorce which could lead to removing the opportunity for the other party to contest the divorce.
The divorce system is in dire need of reform and perhaps these reforms can prevent the current issues which are causing unnecessary disputes, stress and difficulties for those concerned. The legal sector and those seeking to divorce positively await the reforms.
The author of the article is our solicitor -
Azhar Hussain, who is also Head of Family Department