Personal Law

Proposed Divorce Law Changes – What Does It Mean For You?

December 6, 2018

The Justice Secretary, David Gauke, has recently announced that a consultation process will take place in order to try and overhaul, what he calls, “archaic” divorce laws. The government is proposing to remove the need to allege fault and the right of spouses to contest a divorce.

Current Law

There are currently 5 ways to obtain a divorce in the UK:-

  1. Adultery;
  2. Unreasonable behavior;
  3. 2 years Separation by Consent;
  4. Desertion;
  5. 5 years separation without Consent

As you can see, the only way to obtain a divorce without Consent is by the parties living apart for 5 years. If the separation is by Consent, the parties will have needed to have lived apart for a minimum period of 2 years before petitioning for a divorce. The Justice Secretary has said this creates an “unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already trying time for couples”.

Proposals

Under the new proposals, the government is suggesting the following:-

  • A new ground for divorce be introduced, namely “the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”;
  • The need to show evidence of a spouse’s conduct or a period of living apart be removed;
  • A new notification process where one, or possibly both parties, can notify the Court of their intention to divorce, removing the opportunity for the other spouse to contest the divorce petition.

The above proposals will apply to both marriages and civil partnerships.

Should these proposals be implemented, they will not be able to be introduced swiftly by the government and thus these changes could take time to implement. However, it would appear as though the government is intent on changing the laws surrounding divorce and thus change may be introduced sooner rather than later.

What to do next

If you are thinking of divorcing your spouse, or ending your civil partnership, then please contact our Gordon Johnson or Steven Hayre on 01795 472291 to discuss all of the possible options available to you.

If you are currently in an unhappy relationship, or thinking of divorcing or ending your civil partnership soon, but have not taken any steps to do so, act now to ensure you have peace of mind sooner rather than later, and put an end to any stress being caused to yourself.