For many years family lawyers and Judges have been campaigning for changes to current divorce laws and following a radical overhaul Justice Secretary David Gauke has now drawn up reforms which will allow parties to separate without the need for blame.
Under current law it is usual for one party to be ‘at fault’ to meet the requirements of the grounds for divorce which are adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion unless couples both agree to wait and apply after 2 years separation or 5 years if only one party agrees. At present the other party can contest the divorce. The blame or fault requirement often leads to conflict and the divorce becomes acrimonious making an already difficult situation worse. It is completely understandable that one party may find solace is laying blame but in the bigger scheme of things, focussing on the fault can often make resolving the more important issues difficult.
It is particularly important to keep the divorce as amicable as possible where children are concerned, as the parents need to have a continuing relationship to deal with their future arrangements as separated parents.
Under the reforms Irretrievable Breakdown becomes the sole reason and either party can state that the marriage is over and the other party will no longer be able to contest the divorce. There will also be the opportunity for both parties to lodge a joint petition. There will be a six month cooling off period to give the parties time to turn back if they wish before the divorce is finalised. The process of decree nisi and decree absolute will remain the same.
Mr Gauke said “Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances. While we will always uphold the institution of marriage it cannot be right that our outdated laws create or increase conflict between divorcing couples. I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good”.
The reforms still have to go through the legislative process before parliament and may be challenged at that point but the President of the Law Society has welcomed the reforms saying “a no fault divorce will help to cut some of the conflict from what can be a highly stressful experience”.
If you would like information on divorce or separation contact Spectrum Family Law on 01279 799598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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