A New Era for Divorce Law

Yesterday came the long awaited announcement from the government that divorce laws in England and Wales will be changed as soon as parliamentary time becomes available to introduce “no-fault” divorces. This will remove the need for a person to blame their spouse in divorce proceedings where couples wish to divorce in the first two years after separation.

After previous plans to introduce “no fault “ based divorces were shelved in 1996, currently, if couples wish to divorce in the first two years of separation they are left with no option but to blame the other by proving either an adulterous relationship or unreasonable behaviour. If one spouse will not agree to a divorce or admit blame, under the current law a person would have to wait for a 5 year period to have passed before a divorce can be granted. This can inevitably lead to additional upset, stress and acrimony and have a lasting impact on their future relationship. This is particularly relevant where there are children, and parents need an ongoing relationship to effectively co-parent their children.

Under the new laws, there will be a minimum timeframe of 6 months from the date of the petition to the marriage being ended to give all involved a period of reflection on their decisions.

The news has been welcomed by all involved in working with and supporting separated families.

Partner, Karen Beevers of Evans Derry said:

“Whilst some have expressed concern over whether the new laws will make divorce too easy, my experience over the last 20 years is that nobody makes the decision their marriage has ended lightly. It usually follows many weeks, months and possibly years of trying to work out whether the marriage can be saved.

Having been involved in several collaborative family law cases where couples have shown great dignity in working out amicably, round the table with the assistance of their lawyers, all of their proposed future arrangements in respect of both their children and finances, it is an unnecessary and harmful exercise to then explain how one needs to find blame against the other for a divorce to be granted currently within the first two years of separation. The focus needs to be on resolution, and avoiding unnecessary acrimony to help families function post separation. The new proposed laws seem to strike the appropriate balance, whilst not undermining the sanctity of marriage”.

As at yet there is no formal date for the proposed changes, but it does now finally seem the end is in sight of the “blame game”.

For further information please contact Karen Beevers at karenbeevers@evansderry.com