Government confirms plans to introduce no fault divorce
Emily Pope

Government confirms plans to introduce no fault divorce

This morning (9 April 2019) the government have announced plans to introduce no fault divorce, following years of debate.

Current Law

Under current legislation, you are required to prove to a court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down in order to be granted a divorce. You can establish this using one of 5 facts:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Separation for 2 years with consent
  5. Separation for 5 years

Of the above options, numbers 1, 2 and 3 all require the petitioner to prove that their husband/wife is at fault in some way. However, in circumstances where couples separate amicably, the only grounds which do not require the passing of blame are numbers 4 and 5.

This means that couples have to wait a minimum of 2 years (from the point they agree that their marriage is over) before they can apply for a divorce.

Proposed reform

The reform proposals will have the following consequences:

A) Under new reforms, you will no longer have to prove one of the 5 facts listed above. Instead, you will simply be able to state that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

B) It will no longer be possible for one party to defend a divorce. Once a person has decided to start divorce proceedings, there is nothing their spouse will be able to do to stop the process.

C) Divorces will take a minimum of 6 months, allowing couples sufficient time to reflect on their decision and ensure that they are happy it is the right one.

D) It may be possible for parties to issue a joint divorce petition.

How quickly will the reform be implemented?

It can (and often does) take months for new legislation to be brought into force, whilst parliament agrees on the wording to be used. The Ministry of Justice said new legislation would be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. There is no telling how long this will take but matrimonial lawyers will be keeping an eye on the progress of the legislation over the coming months.

However, until the law is changed we would recommend you use solicitors to help you petition for divorce as we can help you keep the process as simple and non-confrontational as possible. We can keep examples of unreasonable behaviour to a minimum, whilst at the same time ensuring there are no hitches in obtaining your divorce as painlessly and as quickly as possible. We offer a fixed fee divorce.

If you are currently experiencing a relationship breakdown and would like advice on divorce, finances or children matters, please contact a member of our Family team at Neves. We offer consultations for up to one hour on a fixed fee basis and we would be happy to advise you.