Last month the Justice Secretary confirmed plans for legal reform of divorce proceedings
Under current law, applicable in England and Wales, a couple making an application for divorce can only do so on one ground: “the marriage has irretrievably broken down”. In order for the court to proceed with an application for divorce, this underlying ground needs to be evidenced by one of the five following facts; Adultery, behaviour (often referred to as unreasonable behaviour), 2 years’ separation with consent, 5 years’ separation without consent, or 2 years desertion.
Therefore, unless a couple has been separated for over two years, the framework of a divorce is anything but amicable. A resulting “blame game” can ensue in order to prove adultery or to identify unreasonable behaviour.
Seen as a potential landmark change in legislation, in the new proposals, there will no longer be a requirement to show evidence of a spouses’ conduct or a required separation period (although the single ground for divorce will remain unchanged). It is also proposed that there will a be a new notification process when notifying the court of an intention to divorce and importantly, the option of contesting a divorce application will be removed.
Further discussions are being held to discuss shorter time frames for the process between obtaining decree nisi and a decree absolute, allowing couples to obtain closure more quickly and when the end of a marriage is clear and divorce is inevitable.
The proposed changes have been widely viewed as being a positive step in making the divorce process more efficient and more amicable.
The consultation closes on 10 December 2018 and the final proposal will be keenly anticipated.
Should you wish to discuss any matters relating to family & divorce, please contact Jolene Hutchison at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01494 478603