Significant changes to the divorce laws in England and Wales will make it easier for couples to divorce without having to allege “fault” on the part of their spouse, hopefully causing less acrimony as a result.

The plans have widespread public support and are endorsed by many of the country’s leading family judges and divorce lawyers. Currently the law requires evidence of adultery or unreasonable behaviour unless the parties have separated (for 2 years if they both agree, or 5 years if they don’t).

The proposed change will mean that they will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The other party will no longer be able to defend or delay the divorce. Justice Secretary David Gauke said the changes would help to end the "blame game".

The changes came about following a Supreme Court decision to refuse a divorce to Tini Owens who sought a divorce from her husband of 40 years due to his behaviour towards her, which he denied. As a result of his refusal to agree to a divorce Mrs Owens cannot divorce until next year.

The new rules will include a minimum six-month period for reflection before the divorce is finalised and will also allow couples to apply for a divorce jointly.

Fiona Apthorpe, Head of Geldards Family Law Team, welcomes the announcement:

“This change is long overdue and should be seen as part of a gradual change in attitudes to divorce which recognise that if, for whatever reason, a marriage is over, the aim should be to bring matters to a conclusion with as little acrimony as is possible always prioritising the needs of any children.”

“A lot of time and money is spent arguing over the grounds for divorce, money which is far better spent on other things, especially when finances are already strained by a separation.”

If you’d like any further information on divorce or separation, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Family Team.

RELATED:FAMILY >>PARENTAL ALIENATION FOLLOWING SEPARATION AND DIVORCE >> 


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Fiona Apthorpe

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