No Fault Divorce

On 8th June 2020, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill passed through the Commons by 231 votes to 16, having already passed through the House of Lords in March. This is arguably the biggest change in the law relating to divorce for nearly half a century.

The current law is governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, which only allows couples to divorce within the first two years of separation, if one party can show that the other party has either commit adultery or their spouse had behaved unreasonably and one of these factors led to the end of the marriage. The new law, which is expected to come into effect in Autumn 2021, will take away any need to
place ‘blame’ on either party for the breakdown of the marriage.

In recent years, lawyers have worked hard to try to reduce conflict in the divorce process, by encouraging clients to include very mild examples of behaviour in their divorce petitions. However, in the recent case of Owens, a husband successfully prevented the divorce proceeding, by challenging the seriousness of his wife’s allegations against him. This forced lawyers to cite more serious allegations to ensure that divorces were successful, which has undoubtedly led to more acrimonious divorces for couples, already in a difficult situation.
Under the new law, couples will be able to proceed with a divorce based solely on an agreement that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Critics suggest that making the divorce process easier may lead to more divorces. I truly hope that it will result in less conflict at the outset of the divorce process, so that the parties can focus on the issue of caring for any children of the marriage, finances and coming to terms with the heartbreak of the relationship itself breaking down.

Julie Gallimore offers a fixed fee consultation for £180; meetings can be held using Telephone, Zoom, Skype or Teams.