The Government Has Announced The First Major Changes To UK Divorce Laws In 50 Years

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Under proposals for an overhaul of current divorce law, Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced a consultation on no-fault divorce in which he calls for the existing fault-based system of establishing the breakdown of a marriage to be abolished.

Currently, a spouse who wants to divorce must either prove their partner has committed adultery, or show unreasonable behaviour, or desertion, or otherwise wait two years if the other party consents to the divorce, five years if they won’t consent.

The government’s proposals would require one party to establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down without having to prove one of the five reasons.

The Ministry of Justice will also look at changing the law to prevent a spouse contesting a divorce and will also consult on the length of the divorce process.

If passed this would be the first significant change to UK divorce law in nearly 50 years. Any reforms would also apply to civil partnerships.

There here has been significant concern raised in recent months about the current law. Sir James Munby, until recently Head of the Family Division of the High Court and one of the country’s most senior family judges, said that current system was beset by a “lack of intellectual honesty” and called for reform.

In July this year, 68-year-old Tini Owens lost her appeal to the Supreme Court who refused permission to allow her to end her marriage to her husband of 40 years after he refused to agree to a divorce. She will not now be able to divorce until 2020.

Mrs Owens was “devastated” by the decision, which led to further calls for reform. The MoJ responded by saying that it would consider changes.

Resolution, the organisation of family law solicitors, has long campaigned for a change to the law, arguing that the existing system “creates conflict” and calling for the “removal of the need to blame from the divorce process”.

For further advice from a client focused, approachable, friendly and experienced Family Law Team please contact us. We have offices in Derby, Nottingham, Cardiff and London.

RELATED: ARE THERE NEW CALLS FOR DIVORCE LAW REFORM? >>

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