Divorce Law Reforms Announced

Last week the government announced that the divorce laws in England and Wales are to be overhauled so couples can split faster and, it is hoped, with less acrimony.

The aim of these reforms is to help reduce family conflict and end divorcing couples having to ‘blame’ each other for the breakdown of their marriage. 

Currently, one spouse has to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other for divorce proceedings to start immediately. This forces couples to focus on the past and on negative behaviour which can lead to the ‘blame game’. In future, they will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

It will also stop one partner refusing a divorce if the other one wants one. Like in the recent case of Mrs T Owens, 68, from Worcestershire, who wanted to divorce her husband of 40 years, on the grounds that she was unhappy. But husband refused to agree to it and the Supreme Court rejected her appeal.

Resolution, the national family justice body, who have been calling for change for the last 30 years, have welcomed the news. Its former Chair and long-time campaigner for no fault divorce, Nigel Shepherd, said: “With this new legislation, finally our divorce laws will be brought up to date – helping divorcing couples and, most importantly, any children they may have, avoid unnecessary conflict.”

A great result for family law in England and Wales. We are delighted.

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