Divorce law set to be overhauled in bid to avoid ‘unnecessary antagonism’

Divorce law set to be overhauled in bid to avoid ‘unnecessary antagonism’

Divorce laws in England and Wales are set to be overhauled in a bid to allow couples to split faster and with less animosity.

The Justice Secretary David Gauke is to begin consultations on introducing a ‘no-fault’ divorce after campaigners argued that the current rules were ineffective and created confrontation.

Mr. Gauke had previously stated that the current system creates ‘unnecessary antagonism’ and that that there was a ‘strong’ case for reform.

The changes would be a landmark moment for divorce law, bringing the legal system into the modern age.

Under current laws, those seeking a divorce must either prove their partner is at fault for the failure of the relationship or, if their partner agrees, must have been separated for more than a two year period.

Only adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour are currently considered faults by the courts, whilst in cases where one partner does not consent to the divorce, candidates who have no evidence of fault must have been separated for five years.

The calls for reform came after a woman’s appeal for divorce was rejected by the Supreme Court because her husband refused to split.

Tini Owens had told the Supreme Court that her 40-year marriage to Hugh Owens was “loveless” and “broken down”. She said he had behaved unreasonably and said she should not reasonably be expected to stay married.

But Mr. Owens had refused to agree to a divorce, justices heard and denied Mrs. Owens’s allegations about his behaviour.

The Supreme Court ruled against her in July, but Lord Wilson said justices had come to the ruling “with reluctance” and he called for Parliament to address whether the law governing entitlement to a divorce remained adequate.

Nigel Shepherd, chairman of the national family lawyer’s organisation Resolution, said: “Today’s news has the potential to be a landmark moment for divorce law in England and Wales.

“The Government appears to have heeded our calls to make our divorce system fit for the modern age, and we will continue to push for this much-needed, overdue reform to be implemented as soon as possible.”