Couples no longer having to prove fault to get divorced is a sensible step, which will have a profound effect on many families in the future, claims one of the region’s leading family law experts.
Amanda Brown of Nottingham based Family Law Group welcomed a government announcement this week that it will introduce legislation to end what it called an ‘unnecessary blame game’.
“It’s not underselling it to say this new law will be a relief for thousands divorcing,” she said.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said he had acted after calls for reform and that now was the right time to end the current law, which requires partners to cite blame in the form of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or long periods of separation before divorce can be granted.
“For many years we have said the system is destructive, causing couples who have grown apart to point a finger of blame, “ added Amanda. “At an already emotional time this need for blame has meant opening more wounds, which can impact everyone associated with the couple, not least the children involved.”
“Removal of this somewhat outdated law will have a profound effect on many families divorcing in the future,” she added. “It will mean there is a much greater chance of relations being kept more cordial during separation. It can only be seen as positive.”
The government intends to remove the ability of one partner to ‘contest’ a divorce in court. Under the new law, irretrievable breakdown of a marriage will be retained as the sole ground for divorce.
The two-stage legal process of decree nisi and decree absolute will be retained, but a minimum timescale of six months will be introduced, from petition stage to final divorce.
This week’s announcement states that the legislation will be introduced ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’.
“We at Family Law Group have seen the old law cause such headaches and great distress. It is the end of a very long campaign by family law experts to end the blame game and it will be welcomed by so many people.”