​Introduction of a no fault divorce!

​Introduction of a no fault divorce!

The Government has today confirmed that a no-fault divorce regime will be implemented into UK legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. This will be music to the ears of practitioners and Judges who have both long awaited this development to the outdated current legal framework.

As previously discussed in our family law articles 'Judge backs no fault divorce' and 'Is no fault divorce the answer?', the current legal system forces couples to apportion blame in the breakdown of their marriage, even when no one is at fault, or wait a minimum period of at least 2 years before they could divorce one another with consent. This often led to an acrimonious divorce which, if they are parents, would more than likely have a knock on effect on the children also.

This proposed change in the law has been long awaited development, and one which has been called out for many years. This has been highlighted by the recent case of Tini and Hugh Owens, which was heard in the Supreme Court. Tini sought a divorce from her husband Hugh on the basis that she was no longer happy in the marriage. Unfortunately, despite the Judges own feelings towards this matter, they were not in a position to change the law and therefore concluded that they were to remain married until the end of the 5 years of separation (the period required for divorce without consent).

The suggested new framework allows for a couple to apply jointly in the divorce, which will promote collaboration between spouses, rather than it being a race to see who can apply first. This will be a more beneficial approach, especially if they have children together. The government has also suggested a 6 month period between the petition and the decree absolute, allowing for a period of time for the couple to reflect on their decision, however, not forcing them to remain married for an extended period of time which is currently 2 years minimum.

This is a welcomed change, for which Neale Grearson, Partner and Head of Family Law Department, has commented on with the following "Today's announcement of the introduction of "no fault divorce" is long overdue. The present procedure is based on legislation introduced in 1973 – over 45 years ago. Society and families have changed fundamentally since then but the law has not kept up.

This should not be seen as making it easier to get a divorce but will take away the present acrimony caused around one spouse having to "blame" the other when the situation is far more complicated. It will also hopefully ensure that the emphasis is on dealing with the repercussions of a divorce more amicably especially around arrangements for children. The proposed 6 month reflection period will allow time for people to think about whether this is what they want to happen without there being a battle over the way a divorce takes place where realistically a marriage is over.

The only downside is when the new law will come into operation as although the government is suggesting as soon as possible this is subject to parliamentary time being available and as we all know they are currently spending a lot of time dealing with Brexit!"

The full response from the Ministry of Justice to the consultation is available to read online.

This radical new proposal will be one of the subjects at our Family Briefing, taking place during April and May at venues in Norwich, North Walsham, Sheringham and Fakenham. To book your free place please contact asmith@clapham-collinge.co.uk.

Clapham & Collinge family law advice is bespoke, confidential and totally designed around you, to find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail call our specialist Family Law Solicitors on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.

*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.