The Justice Secretary today announced that no-fault divorce will become law as soon as parliamentary time allows. This will mean that if a couple wish to divorce within two years of separation, one of them will no longer have to blame the other of unreasonable behaviour or adultery – which can cause increased acrimony in an already stressful situation. The fault based system will be completely replaced by a notification system, the details of which will be set out in new legislation.
The government has finally taken action after a Supreme Court decision in 2018. The Court followed current legislation, made in 1973, resulting in a wife being forced to remain married to her husband for five years after separation, in circumstances where she could not establish unreasonable behaviour and where he would not consent to the divorce.
Opinions differ as to whether this is progress or not. Some are opposed to this move as they consider divorce will be made easier. In my opinion, a decision to divorce is very rarely made without significant consideration and deliberation, and when this significant decision has been made, what is the point in making it more difficult and acrimonious for people.
Mr Gauke told BBC News: 'Frankly, we are not going to keep marriages together by having a divorce process that just makes it more acrimonious [and] tries to apportion blame in such a way that the couple are likely to have a weaker, poorer relationship subsequently than they would otherwise do.'
He said the new law would be introduced as soon as possible, when parliamentary time allowed.
The changes follow the Supreme Court's rejection of a woman's appeal for divorce after her husband refused to agree a split.
Tini Owens, 68, from Worcestershire, wanted to divorce her husband of 40 years, on the grounds that she was unhappy.
But husband Hugh refused to agree to it and the Supreme Court unanimously rejected her appeal.
It meant the couple must remain married until 2020.