Under current divorce laws in England and Wales, a party who wishes to initiate divorce proceedings against their spouse would need to notify the Court that their marriage has irretrievably broken-down by establishing one of the five facts below.
Fault based divorces such as adultery and unreasonable behaviour can inflame an already trying time between divorcing couples. The current legislation states the person initiating the proceedings (i.e. the Petitioner) is to provide proof that the marriage has irretrievably broken-down which, forces the Petitioner to evidence examples of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ against their spouse (the Respondent).
The current legislation also forces married couples to remain married for a period of two or five years because they are unable to blame one another for the breakdown of the marriage which is be considered to be unfair.
In the most recent case of Owens v Owens UKSC , Mrs Owens initiated divorce proceeding after 40 years of marriage based on Mr Owens unreasonable behaviour. Mrs Owens evidenced examples of being unhappy. Mr Owens defended the divorce petition as he felt he had not behaved in the way Mrs Owens had alleged and had hoped that Mrs Owens would return to live with him. Mrs Owens appealed to the Supreme Court where her appeal was rejected and it was held, her appeal from a refusal to grant a Decree Nisi was dismissed and that Mrs Owens must remain married to Mr Owens until 2020 which is when the fact of five years separation shall apply.
On the 9th April 2019 England and Wales saw a 50-year breakthrough in divorce legislation. Justice Secretary David Gauke said by ending the “blame game” it will bring to an end the hostility and conflict between divorcing couples and by introducing the reform of a no-fault based divorce should alleviate undue stress and acrimony.
The Government are introducing the divorce no-fault reforms and has plans to:
The no-fault divorce legislation will come in to force as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
We at Austin Kemp support the reforms as it will make the divorce proceedings for our client’s easier and shall encourage them to turn their focus on more important issues such as finances and children matters.
Written by Sarah Afzal Neal | Family Lawyer
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