Divorce reforms back on the table

As Parliament returns from its Christmas break, many family lawyers will be pleased to note that divorce reform is back on the agenda.

The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill was first introduced in June 2019. However, progress has been thwarted twice, first due to prorogation of Parliament and then due to the December general election. However, on 6th January 2020, it was finally introduced to the House of Lords.

The current law surrounding divorce requires spouses to evidence one of five “facts” to demonstrate that a marriage has broken down irretrievably; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation (with consent) or five years separation (without consent).

Studies show that 90% of family practitioners believe that the law in this area is outdated. It often requires separating parties to point a finger of blame and drag up allegations of conduct. Invariably, this exacerbates what is already an emotionally charged situation, causing unnecessary stress and heartache for the whole family, including any children.

By introducing a no-fault divorce, needless antagonism will be removed from the divorce process. The requirement to evidence one of the five facts will be replaced with a statement of irretrievable breakdown. Parallel changes will also be made to the law in respect of civil partnerships.

There appears to be a general consensus in Parliament that this bill delivers much needed reform without undermining the institution of marriage. For family lawyers who have long campaigned for a no-fault divorce process, this is welcomed news.

For advice on all family related matters, please contact our specialist team at Bevirs Law.

Heather Reilly – Solicitor in our Family Team