Will proposed divorce law reform benefit you?

  • Author: Gemma Thew
  • Posted on: 30th January 2020
  • Posted in: Blog

Will proposed divorce law reform benefit you?

The decision to divorce is never an easy one, and January is known to be the most common month to initiate a marital split…

With the joy of the festive season long gone – and possibly struggling with family tensions or financial pressure as a result of Christmas, or having deferred action to avoid disruption – the start of a fresh New Year can often cause couples to re-evaluate their futures.

Relate – the UK’s largest relationship support charity – sees a spike in calls in January as couples seek to save their marriages via mediation and counselling, while the legal sector also encounters a peak in enquiries about divorce and the implications of separation each year.

Grounds for divorce to be overhauled

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, current law states that couples who apply for a divorce must prove their marriage has broken down, with the petitioner giving one of the following reasons:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. The couple has lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce
  5. The couple has lived apart for at least five years, even if one partner disagrees

Clearly, the first three reasons carry a certain amount of blame and are likely to create ill-feeling, since the petitioner is required to provide specific details to corroborate their claim and this makes the situation very one-sided. The relative benefit of the ‘blame’ grounds is that divorces can be quicker to initiate and process – assuming the grounds are not contested – compared to waiting two (or five) years with the current ‘no-fault’ grounds.

The proposed divorce law change means that spouses will no longer have to choose whether to attribute blame or wait until they have lived separately for two years – they will be able to apply for a no-fault divorce after six months of separation. This reform will hopefully have a positive impact on many divorcing couples, by reducing conflict and animosity. Where children are involved, it is hoped that this will support ongoing co-parenting relationships.

The changes to the law are expected to be implemented as soon as government time allows. 

Even if the decision to part ways is mutual, divorce can be a daunting and highly complex process. However, you can be assured that your divorce will be handled sympathetically and diplomatically by our experienced team of family law solicitors.

Our friendly and knowledgeable solicitors are on hand for a discussion – either face-to-face or over the phone – please call us on 01273 734 600 or email us at advice@crosbywoods.co.uk