The UK government are set to announce a consultation on ‘no-fault divorce’ as Justice Secretary David Gauke described the current system as creating “unnecessary antagonism” following the case of Owens v Owens. It was reported that David Gauke now plans to call for the existing fault-based system to be overhauled.
We reported on the case of Owens -v- Owens back in July where the Supreme Court ruled the Mrs Owens must stay in a loveless marriage. Mrs Owens will now have to wait until they have been separated for 5 years in order to obtain her divorce. Despite this outcome, solicitors are welcoming the potential for no fault divorce to be introduced.
Under current legislation that has remained unchanged for decades, anyone seeking a divorce must prove their partner is at fault for committing adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour. The current non-fault grounds require consent for a divorce after 2 years of separation but otherwise 5 years of separation without consent which is where Mrs Owens currently stands. The consultation would hope to address the long overdue need for reform and would be a significant change to divorce law in England and Wales.
Nigel Shepherd, a former chair of family law organisation Resolution reported that “Today’s news has the potential to be a landmark moment for divorce law in England and Wales. For far too long, couples have been forced into needless acrimony and conflict in order to satisfy an outdated legal requirement.”
We look forward to the announcement of the consultation and hope that it will be a positive step towards putting an end to the blame-game and helping reduce conflict within divorce.