Last night (9 June 202) MPs in the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to change the law in relation to divorce. The changes are long overdue.
The proposed reforms remove the “fault” element in the divorce process, with one party no longer having to accuse the other spouse of adultery or unreasonable behaviour to start immediate proceedings.
If a husband and wife have simply grown apart and do not want to allege “fault”, the law as it currently stands does not allow them to get divorced until they have waited a minimum of two years – and that still requires the other spouse’s consent before the divorce can go through. This approach has long been seen by lawyers and the public as outdated.
Under the new law, couples will simply say that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and apply for a divorce. There will be a minimum 20 week period of reflection before they are granted the first stage of the divorce.
The changes may have passed another stage in Parliament this week, but it will take much longer for the new law to be given Royal assent and to be implemented. Although change is coming, it is not here yet.
When the new process does arrive, the key point is that it takes the blame out of the equation.
There will undoubtedly be couples who wish to get divorced after being in lock-down with their spouse during the COVID outbreak. Often people consult a solicitor without the knowledge of the other spouse and this has obviously been more difficult during lock-down and there may well be a spike in the divorce rate as our lives slowly return to normality.
Whatever the circumstances, if you are contemplating divorce, it is always best to seek professional advice as soon as possible so that you understand the options and can start to consider your future plans.