A change to allow couples to separate without having to blame each other has moved a step closer to becoming law.
Last week, MPs debated The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill during its second reading in Parliament.
The Bill has already been passed by the House of Lords and it is hoped by many that the law could now come into effect in a matter of months.
According to Hayley Eachus, who heads the Family Law team at Phillips Solicitors incorporating Brain Chase Coles, this will be the biggest shake up in divorce law in England and Wales for 50 years.
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.
The key change is that people will be able to seek a no-blame divorce by only having to state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Hayley said: “When the reform finally goes ahead, the concept of fault or blame will be removed from the process and spouses could lose the right to contest a divorce.”
“For years we in the legal profession have been warning that the existing legislation often leads to unnecessary painful and destructive marriage break-ups.”
“The current divorce law is archaic and unfair because of its heavy reliance on using fault as a basis of divorce which inevitably heightens emotions in an already a difficult situation.”
The move to change divorce laws was partly prompted by the case of Tini Owens, who was refused a divorce from her husband after 37 years of marriage. Mrs Owens could only obtain a divorce by living apart from him for five years. Her case was heard and rejected by Supreme Court justices in 2018. One of the judges said that it was up to Parliament to change the law.
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This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.