Proposed changes to the Divorce Law

On 9th April 2019 new legislation was announced which will mean that divorcing couples will no longer have to blame each other when divorcing.

Under current law, if the the parties have not been separated for a period of two years or more, then in order to divorce they have to rely on conduct of the other party, or adultery.

I regularly see clients who wish to divorce from their spouses, but do not wish to make accusations against their spouses and sometimes have simply fallen out of love with their husband or wife.  Raising allegations of conduct can often make the process more stressful and hostile, sometimes impacting on any children involved.  However, this is often the route taken just to achieve a divorce, with this being the most common reason relied upon nationally since the 1970s for wives, and since 2006 for husbands.

The new proposed law will mean that there will be no need to raise allegations of behaviour, or adultery, or wait for two years separation to pass.  Instead, the process will focus on irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  We will still see the two stage process of “Decree Nisi” and “Decree Absolute”.

There will also be a six month minimum timeframe, which will allow the parties to have time for reflection and the opportunity to change their minds if they wish to.

The ability to contest the divorce will also be removed.  I have practised in family law for over six years and in reality, very few divorces are contested even under the current law.

The same process will also apply for Civil Partnerships and same sex marriages.

As a solicitor specialising in this area, I believe that this will lead to a less stressful and acrimonious process for clients, which in turn should help the parties agree matters such as children and financial settlement.

But when will it happen….”when parliamentary time allows”.  In the current political climate we could have a long wait ahead!



This blog published by T A Matthews is for information purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter.  The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a solicitor, and readers should consult their own solicitor on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.