After much anticipation and delay, divorce reform is finally back on the Government’s agenda. The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill has now reached the final stages of the parliamentary legislative process and will be introduced later in the year.
The current law prescribes five possible ‘facts’ for divorce; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation with consent, five years’ separation or desertion. The new Bill is set to remove the ‘blame element’ of divorce, which has long increased tensions between separating couples, by replacing the requirement to show spousal conduct or years’ separation with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. Other changes include removing the possibility to contest divorce, and a new option to make a joint divorce application.
It is hoped that once introduced, the changes to the law will encourage more amicable separations, allowing families to move on with their lives more easily. Similar changes will also be made to the law governing the dissolution of civil partnerships.