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The Justice Secretary, David Gauke has spoken this week on the Governmental plan to introduce no-fault divorce legislation, “as soon as parliamentary time becomes available".
He said, ‘It cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples".
The Justice Secretary has also pledged that he hopes this will end the “blame game” in marital breakdowns, when there is no blame to apportion to either party.
The existing Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, requires anyone seeking a divorce must prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour. The legislation also allows for both parties to divorce following two years’ separation, should they both agree. However, if both parties do not consent to the divorce or if there is no evidence of fault against one party, applicants must then wait until the have been living separately for five years to seek a divorce.
There has been widespread support for this initiative which gained momentum following the Supreme Court ruling in July 2018, where Tini Owens could not divorce her husband until 5 years had elapsed.
The Justice secretary said, “While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples. So I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good.”
The chief executive of the relationship support charity Relate, Aiden Jones said: “This much-needed change to the law is good news for divorcing couples and particularly for any children involved. The outdated fault-based divorce system led parting couples to apportion blame, often resulting in increased animosity and making it harder for ex-partners to develop positive relationships as co-parents.”
The Head of the Family Team at Ramsdens Solicitors, Helen Thewlis says, “This is a long overdue change which will hopefully reduce conflict between parties who are separating.”
Helen is also an active member of Resolution, previously known as the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA). Resolution is an organisation of over 6,500 Family Lawyers and other legal professionals who “believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.”
Helen and her team work closely with their clients, ensuring that they initially aim to resolve matters of separation and finances in an amicable way; using a variety of methods. These are primarily aimed at reducing the prospect of clients having to resolve their matter through a court process, which can be lengthy and costly.