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All change for getting a divorce?

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All change for getting a divorce?


The Government has published a consultation paper on measures designed to reduce family conflict during the divorce process and aimed at shifting the focus from blame and recrimination  to one of consent.


Justice Secretary David Gauke said:

"Marriage will always be one of our most important institutions, but when a relationship ends it cannot be right for the law to create or increase conflict between divorcing couples. That is why we will remove the archaic requirements to allege fault or show evidence of separation, making the process less acrimonious and helping families look to the future".

It took the case of Mrs Owens, (see our blog of 25 July) to highlight the difficulties with the present system anyone applying for a divorce to show that the marriage has Irretrievably broken down by reference to one or more of five reasons:


  1. Adultery (of the other spouse);
  2. Unreasonable behaviour (of the other spouse and that the respondent 'behaved in such a way that the person applying for a divorce cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent');
  3. Desertion (by the other spouse);
  4. Two years separation by consent (consent of the other spouse);
  5. Five years' separation.

The government consultation sets out proposals which include:

  • retaining the sole ground for divorce as the irretrievable breakdown of marriage;
  • removing the need for a spouse to give evidence of the other spouse's conduct or a period of living apart;
  • introducing a new notification process where one or possibly both parties, can notify the court of the intention to divorce;·
  • removing the opportunity for the other spouse to contest the divorce application

The present system does or at least can add conflict, and increases tension and legal costs where parties cannot agree. This can be both an emotional and a financial drain. Where there are children, this can also create additional issues.

The consultation period ends in December 2018 so any change in the law will not come about for some time. In the meantime for specialist legal advice on all aspects of cohabitation, divorce or separation contact John Hodge Solicitors. We offer free initial appointments in all of our offices and we have clinics available in Weston-super-Mare on 1st Saturday each month and Bristol on the 3rd Saturday of each month.



Contact our experts for further advice