UPDATE: No-fault divorce- Government response to consultation paper

The government has recently announced plans to reform the divorce process, which will remove the need for parties to allege fault. The current law states that in order to get divorced, you must demonstrate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the five facts of divorce. Currently, if you wish to divorce without alleging fault of the other party, you must have been separated for a period of 2 years and the other person must consent to the divorce or, alternatively, you must wait 5 years if the other party does not consent. However, if you do not wish to wait for the requisite periods, you must either rely on the unreasonable behaviour or adultery of the other party. When relying on the fact of unreasonable behaviour, the Petitioner (the person instigating the proceedings) must cite allegations of the unreasonable behaviour within the petition. Critics of the current law have said that by citing blame and utilising examples, this causes unnecessary animosity between the parties and many practitioners have called for a reform.

The government published its response to the consultation and confirmed that parties must still rely on the ground the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage to petition for divorce but that this does not have to be proven by establishing one of the five facts of divorce.  This amounts to a significant overhauling the current divorce process and there will now no longer be any need to allege fault. Provision will also be made for joint divorce applications and a minimum time frame for the divorce process of six months will be introduced to allow parties time to consider matters.

The government has not yet confirmed a date in which these reforms will be introduced but has stated that the new legislation will be introduced “as soon as Parliamentary time allows...” Please check back on our website for further updates.

At Paul Robinson Solicitors, we understand that considering a divorce and dealing with a marriage breakdown can be a difficult time. We offer a no-obligation initial fixed fee consultation for £100 plus VAT with our team of experts who can provide you with specialist legal advice to enable you to understand and assess your options. To book an appointment, please contact us on 01702 338338 or 01277 500123 or 0208 049 5888. Please note that we can facilitate appointments at our Westcliff, Benfleet, Billericay or Stratford offices.