Finally, the current government has announced a consultation process to look at updating our divorce laws and introducing “no-fault divorces.”
Just in time for Brexit.
Brexit jokes aside – the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is almost 50 years old and drafted in a different age. Under the Act couples effectively have to apportion blame:
Your partner has committed adultery
Your partner has behaved unreasonably
Or, there is a separation of between 2-5 years, depending on their partner’s consent.
However, the period of separation is probably used less frequently – leaving the first two grounds of “blame”.
It is important to understand that the law was drafted back in a time when divorce was the exception – the current rate of divorce in the UK is approximately 42% of marriages. Interestingly, the divorce rate is climbing in the over-50s age group, but declining in those married from 2000 onwards – so much for reckless youth.
The proposals are seeking to remove grounds for divorce and simply keep the current situation that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The proposals will also remove the right of the other spouse to contest the divorce – this is due to the recent Tini Owens case. This involves a wife who has to wait until 2020 (five years) to divorce because her husband refused to accept it. This case alone highlights how archaic the law has become.