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Divorce Law News – Divorce Law Overhaul Proposed

Divorce Law News

Following on from our discussion in our previous blog post discovering the history of family law, we mentioned that there has been discussions and calls for ‘no-fault’ divorces to be introduced in England & Wales. Recent legislation & divorce law overhauls have been recently announced in which allow couples to separate without apportioning blame in order to ‘reduce family conflict.’

As mentioned in our previous article, some laws are almost 50 years’ old and many have called for reform in the law to be brought akin to no-fault divorces that are similar to laws that exist in the US. In this article, we discuss the proposed changes in the law and how this may affect divorce law in the UK.

What are the Proposed Changes in the Law?

Current laws in England and Wales dictate certain conditions in which a divorce can be started. Under the existing law (Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) a spouse must prove the other party is at fault through unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion. Critics of the law as it currently stand claim that assigning ‘blame’ for the breakdown of a marriage only increases acrimony within both parties and can put significant strains on children who find that they are at the centre of a battle against both parents.

The reforms also do not come announced without a lack of controversy. Traditionalists and campaigners on relationships have argued that the proposed changes in the law are a direct attack on the institution of marriage, making it too simple for a spouse to initiate the divorce process and seperate if they become unhappy.

What has Constituted This Change in the Law?

No Fault Divorce

Many have argued that the law as it currently stands creates a ‘blame game’ situation in which one person needs to assign blame to the other in order to proceed with a divorce. The government has said that the need to prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion or to live apart for five years will be scrapped with instead a statement will be required by the spouses stating that the marriage has broken down. This also comes with the ability of a husband or wife to contest a divorce to be removed in this proposed reform of the law.

What Will Remain the Same?

‘Irretrievable breakdown’ as the sole grounds for a divorce will remain the same as well as the two-stage process of the decree nisi followed by the decree absolute which confirms the divorce process legally. The divorce process will however have a minimum timeframe of six months for the entirety of the divorce process.

Mixed Reception to These New Reforms

As mentioned, the proposed reforms by the government have been met with praise and criticism since their announcement. Many individuals who are facing the divorce process or have represented clients that are going through or have gone through the divorce process. In our previous article, we discussed the case of Tini Owens who was ordered (due to rejection of appeal by the supreme court) to remain married to her husband until 2020 (as her husband refused to divorce.) Ms Owens has been reported to have welcomed the changes that have been proposed by the government. Others have also voiced their support for the changes in law due to the fact that the current system can cause increased tensions for both parties and cause difficulties with decision on finances and decisions on arrangements for the children.

Although a public consultation was launched in September 2018 which widely called for the changes to be introduced, as discussed the changes have been met with some criticism. Opposition has appeared from groups that take issue with what they claim to be an ‘easier divorce process.’ Some have also claimed that it’s a direct attack on the symbolism of marriage and could cause further issues with relations between families and children after the divorce process. No-Fault divorces can also last longer than fault-based divorces which could make the process longer and further disputes or disagreements.

‘As Soon as Parliamentary Allows’

The changes in the law are looking to be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows this to take place. It’s unsure to know when this will be allocated especially with current issues facing parliament such as Brexit. As these changes are looking to change the way that a divorce can be obtained, this will highly likely affect the ways in which divorce is approached and how divorce is viewed. It is hard to tell if attitudes to divorce will change due to the fact that separations will occur.

Mediation During the Divorce Process

Although the divorce process is set to change, the principles of the divorce process would still be applicable. Agreements will still need to be made regarding decisions on finances after a divorce or separation as well as agreements around your children. Processes such as mediation can be highly important in reaching agreements and potentially reducing disputes during this understandably difficult time. Mediation is therefore still an important factor to consider when divorce laws change however it’s still important to bear in mind that mediation will not be affective in every case.

Reaching Decisions & Agreements During the Divorce Process

As blame will not be needed to be assigned for a divorce to take place, decisions and agreements will need to be reached by both parties. Agreements such as prenuptial agreements can establish division of property and spousal support options which will then be adhered to as a result of a divorce. Working closely with a solicitor is highly important when facing the divorce process. As tensions may be running high, a solicitor can offer impartial legal advice as well as support during this difficult time. Although not one case is the same, an experienced family law solicitor such as the team at Hurlows Family Law Practice can advise and support you during this understandably difficult time in your life.

Enquire With Our Team for More Information

Divorce Advice in the Law

If you have any questions on how this change in the law affects the divorce process or questions around divorce then enquire with our team of expert family law solicitor solicitors today. We have many years of experience in family law and our specialisation solely in family law ensures that we can offer you exceptional representation during your claim. If you require more information on divorce or divorce representation, enquire online using a contact form on our website or telephone a member of our expert team now on: 029 2039 6087