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Long awaited divorce reform finally on the way

After a series of ‘false starts’, it looks like ‘antagonistic’ divorces will soon be a thing of the past.

The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill, which will introduce no-fault divorce, has finally made it back on to the government’s agenda, after being stalled twice because of last years’ events in parliament.

The bill, which had already passed through two readings in the Commons, has now returned to make its journey through the House of Lords.

The process is a long one, but once the bill becomes law, couples will no longer have to lay blame on their spouse for the breakdown of the marriage.

Chloe Davies, family lawyer at Atherton Godfrey welcomed the news, commenting: “This is something we have for a long time been saying would improve the position and avoid making the situation for those already going through a difficult time even worse.”

At the moment, to be granted a divorce, a person has to provide evidence that their spouse is guilty of at least one of five facts – adultery, conduct, desertion and two years separation where there is agreement or 5 years separation where the spouse disagrees.

Nigel Shepherd, former chair of the family law group Resolution, commented: “After a series of false starts last year, we are delighted that government has chosen no-fault divorce as the focus for one of its first bills tabled in the new parliament. For far too long, far too many couples have been effectively forced to assign fault during the divorce process in order to satisfy outdated requirements.”

Under the new law, couples will not need to evidence separation or poor conduct. Instead, they will simply be able to cite ‘irretrievable breakdown’. By removing the evidence ‘fact’, a spouse will no longer be able to contest the divorce either, which has often been a source of conflict.

Robert Buckland, justice secretary, commented: “The institution of marriage will always be vitally important, but we must never allow a situation where our laws exacerbate conflict and harm a child’s upbringing. By sparing individuals the need to play the blame game, we are stripping out the needless antagonism this creates so families can better move on with their lives.”

If you need advice on any aspect of divorce, including children or finances, speak to us in complete confidence – our friendly team will be happy to discuss your options with you – call 01302 320621 or email