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No fault divorce on government agenda – a welcome step

Recent news that a consultation on the prospect of “no-fault divorce” is being prepared by the Conservative government is a welcome step.

The move could quicken the slow and confrontational procedures many couples face when separating.

Like many law firms, we at Dale and Newbery have long been behind a reform of a divorce system, which seems so stuck in the past.

The Justice Secretary, David Gauke, is expected to invite public debate on proposals to change the legislation.

Currently, under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, anyone seeking a divorce must either prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour, or, alternatively, if both sides agree, they can part after two years of separation.

In the absence of agreement, the parties involved must wait until they have been living apart for five years before issuing proceedings.

The news earlier this year that a woman estranged from her husband, lost a Supreme Court appeal to be granted a divorce seems to have stirred up the debate further.

Tini Owens wanted a divorce from her husband of 40 years, but the highest court in the land rejected the appeal, meaning she remains married until 2020.

It is not unusual for couples wishing to move on quickly to make up stories to end the marriage swiftly, but this can be damaging, especially if relations are strained.

Often, following a marriage breakup, there are children involved, so it makes sense to try to do all that can be done to ensure that ex-spouses remain cordial.

The law has to serve society, and the consultation is very welcome. We hope that common sense will prevail and help many thousands of people each year, who are already going through a tough time.

If you need any help regarding divorce or any other family matters, we at Dale and Newbery in Staines are here to help with a confidential and sensitive approach. Please contact us and we can help give you clarity.