We at Strain Keville are delighted to learn about the very recent news that (following the Times newspaper campaign) divorce laws may see a major overhaul. The government has decided to bring forward a reform of the legislation that will put a stop to the fault-based divorce system. This reform will enable couples to divorce quickly and hopefully more amicably without having to make accusations of bad behaviour. Under the proposed legislation, they will be able to divorce by giving notice to a court that a marriage has broken down irrevocably.

Currently when applying for a divorce the Petitioner must give a reason for the divorce, the two most common ones being adultery or unreasonable behaviour.  This is even when the decision to divorce in mutual or amicable. According to divorce experts, having to make allegations of adultery or unreasonable behaviour in the majority of divorces has proven to be a waste of time and money.  

The Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, published a consultation paper last autumn to which more than 600 responses have been received. The responses have been overwhelmingly in support of the law reform and we are very pleased the government are so firmly behind this reform.

Legal experts have welcomed the initiative to modernise the archaic and outdated divorce proceedings. Specifically, to do away with the need to attribute “fault” when applying for a divorce and therefore ending the blame game created by the current laws.

This would be the most important change, but they are also looking to remove the right of a spouse to contest the divorce.

The rules governing the divorce are too old-fashioned and England is behind other European countries, where the laws governing divorce were modernised some time ago. This would bring the United Kingdom on par with countries like France or Spain.  

The combative nature of the current rules means present divorce proceedings tend to be protracted, work heavy and expensive. They also rather unhelpfully aggravate the already tense relationship between a couple who is about to get divorced.

The hope is that the proposed law reform will help the couples that are already going through a very difficult and stressful time, where emotions are running high and fast, to end their marriage speedily and on a less acrimonious note. This should make a big difference when it comes to considering how children are affected by divorce. Now divorcing parents will be able to diminish any negative impact on their children’s mental and emotional wellbeing. It is after all usually the children who suffer the most and any new way of protecting them from adult conflict must be applauded.

We hope that when a divorce becomes the inevitable final destination of the time couples shared together in a marriage, our laws will allow for them to make this transition a less treacherous one.