The government’s plan to reform divorce laws to end damaging “blame games” between couples has been welcomed by Thursfields Solicitors after Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that divorce laws in England and Wales are to be overhauled so couples can split faster and with less acrimony.
Mr Gauke said the changes, which follow the Supreme Court’s rejection of a woman’s appeal for divorce after her husband refused to agree a split, will be introduced as soon as possible, “when parliamentary time allows”.
Shane Miller, Director and Head of the Family Law team at Thursfields, explained current laws means one spouse must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other for divorce proceedings to start straight away or else wait five years from the date of separation for a no-blame divorce.
But she said the government’s overhaul will mean spouses will only have to state the marriage has broken down irretrievably, with the reforms also preventing one partner refusing a divorce if the other one wants one.
Shane said: “The government’s reform of outdated divorce laws is good news as it will better reflect the modern world we live in.
The current divorce process insists on either long, drawn-out delays or what can be highly acrimonious procedures that try to apportion blame.
This often results in even weaker relationships after divorces, making it a damaging experience for both spouses and any children involved.
A new law for the no-fault divorce process that carefully balances the whole process to make it a little more conciliatory without marriage vows becoming worthless should be welcomed.”
The planned changes follow the case of Tini Owens, from Worcestershire, who claimed she had wanted to divorce her husband of 40 years since 2012 on the grounds that she was unhappy.
But her husband Hugh Owens refused to agree a divorce and the Supreme Court last year unanimously rejected her appeal, meaning the couple must remain married until 2020 because they had not separated until 2015.
Shane said the new rules will include a minimum timeframe of six months from petition stage to decree absolute – the legal document that ends a marriage.
After this period, the applicant will be required to continue to affirm their decision to seek a divorce before the divorce is granted.
In addition, a new option will allow couples to apply for a divorce jointly.
Shane added: “This new procedure will allow what has been termed a ‘meaningful period of reflection’ to allow the ‘opportunity to turn back’ but without insisting on years of unhappy marriage or unsightly scenes in court.
This will be a major step to helping individuals to move on with their lives, without having to denigrate the reputations of someone they once loved.”
If you need any advice on divorce or other family matters please contact Shane Miller on 01562 512422 or email email@example.com