As anticipated here last week, the Government has announced a consultation on the introduction of no-fault divorce.
Proposals detailed in the consultation include:
• retaining the sole ground for divorce: the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage
• removing the need to show evidence of the other spouse’s conduct, or a period of living apart
• introducing a new notification process where one, or possibly both parties, can notify the court of the intention to divorce
• removing the opportunity for the other spouse to contest the divorce application
The consultation also seeks views on the minimum time frame for the process between the interim decree of divorce (decree nisi) and final decree of divorce (decree absolute). This will allow couples time to reflect on the decision to divorce and to reach agreement on arrangements for the future where divorce is inevitable.
The announcement has been met with widespread approval, particularly amongst family lawyers, who are well aware of the unnecessary animosity caused by the need to attribute blame for the breakdown of the marriage under the present law.
However, there is still some way to go before we finally have a no-fault divorce system. As Nigel Shepherd, former Chair of Resolution and long-time campaigner for no-fault divorce, has said:
“It is now vital that the many individuals and organisations who have supported our call for change in recent months respond to the government consultation and get firmly behind this reform.”
We must keep up the pressure and ensure that this much-needed reform finally becomes law!
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