Divorce Law Reform

In October of last year I posted an article concerning the Ministry of Justice consultation for the introduction of “no fault” divorce.  After years of campaigning the MOJ has finally announced that new legislation will be introduced although no date has yet been fixed for this.

The hope is that by removing the two possible legal avenues of blame for the breakdown of the marriage (ie. adultery and unreasonable behaviour) the conflict will be reduced resulting in better outcomes of the couple and their children.  Of course, none of this means that couples will stop blaming each other outside of the legal process!

In place of the current facts – one of which has to be evidenced in the Divorce Petition - it’s proposed that couples will either make a joint application to end their marriage, whilst the option of one party starting the process will still remain.  Instead of these facts a statement of irretrievable breakdown must be provided.

It will no longer be possible to contest a divorce but the two current decrees – Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute will remain.

There will also be the introduction of a minimum timeframe of six months of petition stage to Decree Absolute to give couples a proper opportunity to reflect on their decision before the marriage is ended.

Parallel changes will also be made to the law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Along with new legislation is a move to online divorce.  The government already have in place a portal for couples to apply for divorce online although this is not available to their legal advisers.  It’s hoped that online divorce will be rolled out generally by the end of this year so those requiring legal advice and assistance can still obtain it with the benefit or their lawyers being able to access an online portal too.


Sandra Marshall


Published on 03/06/2019

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