Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that new legislation for a no-fault divorce will be introduced to end the “blame game” in marital breakdowns, in a bid to reduce family conflict.
The new law will be introduced to Parliament to update the 50-year-old divorce law, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, that requires an applicant to prove that their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour. If applicants can agree, they can part after two years of separation, but in the absence of this, applicants should wait until they have been living apart for five years.
Divorce can be a difficult process, but having to show fault can increase conflict, therefore impacting children, childcare and financial arrangements; this can have serious consequences, which is why urgent reform is needed to remove this blaming process.
National family justice body, Resolution, has welcomed the announcement and thanked everyone who has been involved with their campaign – whether it was getting involved on social media, reaching out to local news and MPs or attending their Lobby Day. All played a crucial role in keeping this campaign in the spotlight.
Based on public consultation, the change to existing the divorce law will establish a minimum six-month timeframe to enable couples to reflect on their decision as well as abolishing the ability to contest a divorce.
Resolution’s Chair, Margaret Heathcote said:
“In my speech to Resolution’s National Conference, I called on the Lord Chancellor to introduce legislation as soon as possible to end the blame game. Today’s announcement is an important move towards that.
We remain concerned that so much government and Parliamentary time is being spent on Brexit and other issues at the moment and look forward to working with the Ministry of Justice and others to ensure the law is changed at the earliest possible opportunity.
If you’re separating, and you’re faced with having to make unnecessary and unhelpful accusations against your ex on the divorce petition, there is nothing more important than this reform in the law. Let’s now get on with it, and make our divorce law fit for purpose.”
The journey for reform is not over yet; there is still a way to go before the legislation is in place, so there is still time to get involved on social media, reach out to the local news, or blog about it on their websites.