England: Law to be overhauled to allow for faster ‘no-fault’ divorces

England: Law to be overhauled to allow for faster 'no-fault' divorces

Couples in England and Wales will be able to go through “no-fault” divorces faster under new Government proposals.

New legislation representing the biggest overhaul of divorce laws in the jurisdiction in 50 years will be presented to MPs “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.

At present, the law demands proof that a marriage has broken down irretrievably and forces spouses to provide evidence of “unreasonable behaviour” or years of separation, even in cases where a couple has made a mutual decision to part ways.

The new law would replace this requirement with a simpler requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

It would also remove the ability for one partner to contest a divorce, which can delay divorce proceedings for years.

The two-stage legal process, currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute, will be retained and a minimum timeframe of six months from peition stage to final divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute) will be introduced.

Announcing the proposals today, Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.

“So I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good.”

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