Government’s Plan to Introduce No Fault Divorce
The Government has announced that Divorce Law in England and Wales is to be overhauled.
Currently, one spouse has to allege adultery or unreasonable behavior by the other for divorce proceedings to start straight away. In the future they will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The reforms will remove the ability to contest a divorce.
Presently, fault-based divorces, where there are allegations of adultery or unreasonable behavior, may take as little as 3-6 months (if matrimonial financial matters have been dealt with).
No fault divorce can take longer as couples have to prove that they have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of two years prior to the date that the Petition is presented to the Court, if both parties agree to the divorce, or a period of 5 years if one party does not agree to the divorce.
The proposals include :-
- Retaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce.
- Replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a “fact” around behavior or separation with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
- Retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute.
- Creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option for one party to initiate the process.
- Removing the ability to contest a divorce.
- Introducing a minimum time frame of 6 months from Petition stage to final divorce.
The new procedure will allow what has been termed a “meaningful period of reflection” to allow an “opportunity to turn back”.
The new legislation is expected to be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
For further information please contact Susannah Taylor
This article is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide specific legal advice. It should not be relied upon in the absence of specific advice given in relation to particular circumstances.