No Fault Divorce

For years campaign groups and divorce lawyers have been pressing for modernisation of the divorce system. 

The divorce petition is usually the first official paperwork to be prepared. If the petition includes a schedule of “unreasonable behaviour” firmly placing the blame for the marriage breakdown at the door of one spouse then it can be hugely damaging for the other conversations which need to take place, such as those regarding how to look after children in the future and how to share the assets built up during the marriage.

In addition, Owens v Owens has been a well-publicised case which recently reached the Supreme Court and which demonstrated just how difficult it can be to prove fault of a spouse using the “unreasonable behaviour” fact to show that a marriage has broken down. This in itself could result in even stronger Petitions being drafted, with ever increasing acrimony resulting.

A consultation has just been launched by the Ministry of Justice to seek views on reforming the law. The consultation closes on 10th December 2018.  Amongst other things it proposes: 

• upholding the sole ground for divorce—the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage;

• removing the requirements to show evidence of the other spouse’s conduct and to live apart for a period;

• introducing a notification process in which one or both parties are able to notify the court of their intent to divorce; and

• removing the ability of other spouse to contest the divorce application.


Responses can be sent by completing the Ministry of Justice’s online survey


Sandra Marshall

Published on 04/10/2018

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