Senior solicitor Rhiannon Jones, in our leading Family law team, explains the announced introduction of a "no fault" system for divorces in England and Wales, described by some experts as the biggest change in divorce law in 50 years.
Today the government has announced that it will be changing the way married couples in England and Wales are entitled to a divorce.
Under the current system, one spouse must attribute ‘blame’ to the other for the breakdown of their marriage in order to have an immediate divorce, otherwise they must wait a minimum of two years before they can petition. Even where couples are separating on an amicable basis, a divorce petition which seeks to apportion ‘blame’ on one of them can create tension and hostility where previously there has not been any.
The government’s new law would enable separating married couples to divorce on the basis that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, but without one of them having to allege the other behaved unreasonably or committed adultery.
There will also be the introduction of a minimum timeframe of six months between the date of the divorce petition and Decree Absolute (the final decree that terminates a marriage), and the option for couples to petition for divorce jointly.
Whilst there is no set date for this proposed law to be introduced, Justice Secretary David Gauke has stated that it will be as soon as “parliamentary time allows”.
The proposed changes will be welcomed by separating couples and legal practitioners alike; the latter of whom have been campaigning Parliament for a change to divorce laws for many years.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.