In order to be granted a divorce, you must prove the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of your marriage.

Currently, to do this, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage must be evidenced by one of the ‘five facts’ that can be found in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The facts are:

  • that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
  • that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
  • that the respondent deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;
  • ‘two years separation’ immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted.
  • ‘five years separation’ immediately preceding the presentation of the petition

The first three of these ‘facts’ can be considered to be ‘fault-based’ as they apportion blame on the Respondent for the breakdown of the marriage, whereas the ’separation’ facts are the current unsatisfactory provision for ‘no-fault’ divorce.

Lawyers and Parliamentarians have long contested that the law is in drastic need of upgrade and modernisation. Indeed, in the mid-1990s there was an unsuccessful attempt at introducing fresh provision for ‘no-fault’ divorce. Recently, Justice Secretary David Gauke has promised new legislation as soon as possible, which will finally bring the UK’s divorce law in line with other jurisdictions.

The argument made for reform is that the current provisions for no-fault divorce (the two and five year periods of separation) are unworkably long. Further, requiring parties to apportion blame based on adultery or ‘behaviour’ needlessly adds to the conflict of what is already a distressing time. This ‘blame game’ slows down the process and creates obstacles to resolving any Children or Financial matters.

Under the new legislation, the ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ will remain the sole ground for divorce, and the two-stage process of ‘decree nisi’ and ‘decree absolute’ will also be upheld.

The Government proposes a minimum six-month time frame from petition to decree absolute to allow time for meaningful reflection. A further positive new option will be for couples to apply for divorce jointly. There will no longer be any provision to defend a divorce.

At Cocks Lloyd we are confident that these proposed changes will reduce any unnecessary animosity in the divorce process and further will streamline and speed up your divorce; saving you time, emotional suffering and most importantly legal fees!

Talk to us today should you require more information.