The Law Society have welcomed the government plans to reform the divorce process to remove the concept of fault. Many legal professionals feel current divorce law is out of date, particularly following the 2018 Owens v Owens case.
The Ministry of Justice issued a consultation on its plans in September 2018. The consultation closed in December 2018. In April 2019 the government published its response to the consultation and confirmed that it would go ahead with the planned changes by introducing new legislation.
Following reform, a couple or one party would only need to notify the court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. The ‘five facts’ would be removed:
- behaviour that makes continuing to live together unreasonable
- separation of more than two years (if spouse agrees to the divorce)
- separation of at least five years (if spouse disagrees with the divorce).
The government also plans to:
- allow couples to give notice jointly
- allow joint applications to become sole applications (and vice versa)
- remove the ability for one person to contest a divorce
- retain the two-stage process of decree nisi and decree absolute
- introduce a minimum timeframe of six months from petition to decree absolute
- modernise the language used in the divorce process.
These changes would also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
It is the view of the Law Society that this introduction would simplify the process and would reduce conflict, allowing couples to focus on important issues like children, property and finances.
Whilst this reform may take time to implement it is nevertheless an important step towards helping couples resolve their difficulties amicably and in many cases in the interests of the children.
If you are contemplating a separation and are unsure of what steps to take then please contact one of our expert solicitors on 0121 7021580 who will talk you through the process and the best options available to you. The initial appointment will be free of charge and our aim will be to resolve matters as amicably and swiftly as possible.