No fault divorce at last, as new changes to changes to divorce law are announced
Changes to the legislation for the grounds for divorce, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, have been announced by the Justice Secretary. When passed by parliament, these changes will finally end the need for the ‘blame game' when filing for divorce.
The proposed legislation would only require a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the sole grounds for divorce. It will also abolish the ability for one spouse to contest a divorce, as happened in the Tiny Owens case.
New to the legislation is the requirement for a six month minimum timespan from the divorce petition to the granting of the divorce. This is to allow for a period of ‘reflection’ for the couple. Also new is an option for a joint application for divorce.
The two-stage legal process of decree nisi and decree absolute will remain, as will the currently required six-week gap between decree nisi and decree absolute. The law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership would also be changed.
According to Justice secretary David Gauke, the new legislation would be introduced "as soon as Parliamentary time allows”. Mr Gauke said he:
“Firmly believes now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good … Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances. While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.”
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