Divorce reform to end blame game

Divorcing couples will no longer have to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage thanks to a new law announced by the government.

The Family Law team at Phillips welcome today’s announcement from the Justice Secretary David Gauke who said the aim of the new law is to help reduce family conflict.

The move follows a 12-week public consultation which showed widespread support for no-fault divorce.

New legislation will be introduced to Parliament to update the current 50-year-old divorce law which has been shown to exacerbate conflict, working against any prospect of reconciliation as well as being damaging to children by undermining the relationship between parents.

The issue was highlighted in the media last year when 68-year-old Tini Owens’ appeal for divorce was rejected by The Supreme Court. She wanted the Court to grant her a divorce on the grounds that she is unhappy with her marriage.

Mrs Owens maintained that her relationship with her 80-year-old husband Hugh had broken down irretrievably because of his unreasonable and controlling behaviour.

However, Mr Owens refused to divorce and denies the allegations from his wife.

The couple who were married over 40 years ago have lived separately since 2015.

Although sympathetic to her situation, The Supreme Court’s decision meant that Mrs Owens must remained married until 2020.

The reason for this is that under the current law, unless a person can prove their marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to get a divorce without a spouse’s consent is to live apart for five years.

Welcoming the much-needed changes, Hayley Eachus, who is a family law specialist at Phillips Solicitors, said: “The news will help move family law in this country into the 21st Century.”

“The change will mean that separating couples will no longer have to apportion blame for marriage breakdown, which can be very painful not only for the separating couple, but also for their children and wider family."

If you are considering divorcing or separating from your partner, whether you are married or not, please do not hesitate to contact Hayley by calling 01256 854633 or by emailing hayley.eachus@phillips-law.co.uk