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Queens speech reintroduces the 'no-fault' Divorce Bill

View profile for Joanne Druce
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On the 14th October the Parliamentary Bill introducing the proposed 'no-fault' Divorce was re-introduced in the Queens speech

The Queen’s speech, which outlines the plans for the parliamentary year, has brought ‘no fault’ divorce back onto the agenda with the reintroduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. The reform would mean divorcing couples will no longer have to put the ‘blame’ upon each other for the breakdown of their marriage.

The legislation to introduce 'no-fault' divorce, which had been put before MP's by David Gauke when he was justice secretary, had not been approved before the end of the parliamentary session and was automatically dropped when parliament was prorogued in September. Family Law experts welcomed the move after concerns that prorogation would kill the Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Bill.

The introduction of a no fault divorce system is believed to be well overdue, however officials say it is better late than never!! It comes after overwhelming pressure from senior judges, solicitors, barristers, politicians and members of the public for reform

Although MPs must start from scratch to pass the legislation the government has said the the new Bill will mirror the provisions in its earlier format.

So what were the proposals under the old Bill?

The proposed new grounds for Divorce in the UK

New legislation will hopefully be announced to overhaul divorce law and, without doubt, reduce conflict between separated parents and hopefully limit the impact children are exposed to from the ongoing conflict between their parents. It also aligns itself with the approach of solicitors to a non-confrontational approach to family conflict. 

Under the current rules blame has underpinned the beginnings of the divorce process. At a time when life for separating married couples is shrouded in bitterness, anger and hurt someone has to be to blame. This fault based divorce system where allegations of adultery and unreasonableness can further divide a family.

Currently if a party wants a divorce without attributing blame they will have to wait at least 2 years after their separation in order to petition. This will now be a thing of the past.

Can a partner refuse to agree to a Divorce under the new Legislation?

The change, is a product of a 12-week consultation process and will mean couples only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. It will also stop one partner refusing a divorce if the other one wants one.

The current divorce process means a party has to try apportion blame. This simply leads to a poorer relationship between the parties than they otherwise would have.

Owens  v  Owens 2018

The changes follow the Supreme Court's rejection of a woman's appeal for divorce after her husband refused to agree a split. The case of Mrs Owens was one of a woman who wanted to divorce her husband of 40 years. She was simply unhappy.  Her husband refused to agree to the divorce. This meant that the couple had to remain married until 2020.

The judgement and details of the case can be found HERE

Baroness Hale, a senior judge has repeatedly highlighted the need to change the law describing it as “unjust” in its current form. The Law Society has welcomed the change stating that the Government has finally brought the Divorce Laws into the 21st Century and have published their article HERE

How long will a Divorce take under the new rules?

The new rules will include a minimum timeframe of six months from petition stage to decree absolute - the legal document that ends a marriage. A new option will be to allow couples to apply for a divorce jointly.

At F Barnes we offer a FREE 30-minute initial consultation for family matters including Divorce. There is no obligation to instruct us but this this meeting is designed to help identify what will be best for you and your family once the relationship has irretrievably broken down. We will explain the whole process to you and the likely costs involved.

If you would like to book an appointment or find out more information please contact us on 01708 745183 or via email on tjclients@fbarnes.co.uk