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Are the rules of divorce changing?


Last month the Divorce Law Review Bill was introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Butler-Sloss. Olivia Bailey of Harrison Drury’s family team looks at what could happen if this bill becomes the law.

The current law in England and Wales means that you cannot be divorced without one of the following five grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent

This means that unless the couple have been separated for some time, one person will need to blame the other for the breakdown of their marriage. For a long time, there have been calls for a no-fault divorce option to be introduced to UK law to avoid the need for blame.

What is the new bill?

The new bill suggests that the breakdown of a marriage could be evidenced simply by a system of application and subsequent notification after a period of nine months separation. No other reason or evidence would be required.

The application and subsequent confirmation may be made by one or both parties. The bill states that in sole application cases the other party must be informed of the application.

The current time restraint of being prohibited for starting divorce or dissolution within the first twelve months of marriage or civil partnership will remain.

If the new bill becomes law, which will take on average a year, then applying for a divorce or dissolution could become quicker and more straight-forward, allowing for issues such as financial settlements and other arrangements to be agreed and secured much sooner.

Harrison Drury has a specialist team of family law experts offering advice on issues surrounding divorce and other family law matters. For more information please contact Olivia Bailey on 01772 428535.

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