UK Lawmakers Introduce Change to Outdated Divorce Legislation

Lawmakers in England and Wales are ready to introduce legislation for no-fault divorce as soon as parliamentary time is available — this legislation would put an end to the “blame game” that occurs during divorces under current law.

The existing divorce laws would be changed to allow a minimum six-month period for couples to “reflect” on their decision to end their marriage. Additionally, the ability to contest a divorce filing will be removed.

Divorce ends for a number of reasons — despite the fact that both parents work full-time in 46% of two-parent households, financial stress can result in a marriage ending. And there are several other reasons, like adultery or a simple change of heart, that could lead to divorce.

Currently, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 requires that if someone wants to file for a divorce, they must prove that their partner was unfaithful or at fault through desertion or unreasonable behavior. Furthermore, the law requires two years of separation before a divorce is finalized if both parties agree to get a divorce. And if one party doesn’t agree, the applicant has to be living apart for five years before they can get a divorce.

So instead of having to prove adultery or wait several years, partners would have to give a statement of an irreversible breakdown in the marriage. However, the current two-stage legal process, decree nisi and decree absolute, will remain in place. There will also now be the option for a joint application when filing for divorce.

Those opposed to this current law agree that these rules often increase conflict, forcing one partner to blame the other or having to wait years for a divorce to be allowed.

According to David Guake, who introduced the change in legislation, says, “Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances… While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples. So I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good.”

There will always be problems or concerns to work out when a couple gets divorced, like whether or not the non-custodial parent will get the average 88 days with the child each year. But this new legislation will remove the need to pin one partner against the other in order to file for a divorce.

Lawmakers hope this new legislation will make the process of divorce easier, especially for those couples who have already been living apart for years and those whose partners won’t agree to the divorce.

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