Another chapter open in no-blame divorce

Following on from our recent blog calling for a review of divorce law, more plans have now been revealed to address some of the outdated areas of the law.

Up until now, couples wishing to divorce had to fall into one of the few categories that would allow them to do so. These include unreasonable behaviour, such as adultery, or desertion.

However, there are some cases where divorce comes about because the relationship has irrevocably broken down. People drift apart and there is no rhyme or reason. For these couples, divorce is not usually granted because they do not fit into circumstances outlined within the law – i.e. there has been no desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

According to a BBC News story, which broke over the weekend, the Government has released consultation that could overturn some of these laws. It could mean those couples who experience a relationship breakdown will now be granted a divorce.

However, some critics have suggested the idea has already been tried and tested. They will remember attempts under Tony Blair’s government to bring in the “no-fault” divorce. It was met with heavy opposition, with some saying it will cast a shadow over marriage and maybe encourage people to take such a legal commitment seriously. As a result, the legislation was dropped.

But, speed forward 20 years and the landscape of marriage has changed somewhat. We have since had civil partnerships and same sex marriage legalised in the UK. It won’t be long before heterosexual couples will also be able to apply for civil partnership if they do not wish to get married. Couples who do not wish to enter into a legal agreement, but are simply living as “cohabiting” couples, are also entering the battle for equal rights to those who are married. With all of this in mind, it is likely that this time around, there is a good chance the no-fault divorce law will be introduced.

Justice Secretary, David Gauke, said: "current divorce laws are out of touch with modern life. The blame game that currently exists helps nobody. It creates unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already trying time for couples."

Under the new law, couples can prove the separation is mutual by living apart for a minimum of two years. It is thought this will also put an end to the “blame game” culture that often surrounds divorce.

The consultation will run for 10 weeks and closes on 10 December 2018.

If you would like some further information relating to your own divorce, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.