Will tomorrow be a new day for family law?

The day has (almost) arrived.

Tomorrow, Supreme Court judges including newly-appointed President Lady Hale will determine the matter of Owens v Owens; the result of which  has the potential to lead to an extensive overhaul of current divorce laws in England and Wales.

Nearly 30 years ago, The Law Commission recommended that we adopt a “no fault” divorce regime, a stance that has recently been publicly supported by Lady Hale. Such a suggestion would not be perceived as outlandish in light of the fact that most countries which have a law analogous to our system have made the switch to a “no fault” system: Australia, New Zealand and Ireland to name a few.

However, in light of Lady Hale’s recent statement that “It is not the job of the courts to legislate – only Parliament can do that. Our job is to interpret law that Parliament has given up. This is definitely not a vehicle for introducing…reforms” it regrettably seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will find otherwise.

By no means do we profess to be fortunetellers, so keep an eye on our family blog to see what our family law team make of the decision… whatever it may be!

For years, Matrimonial lawyers and the courts have been involved in a conspiracy (according to the Court of Appeal) to operate a law in relation to divorce different from the law of the land. Now that we have been found out, we are going to have to play by the rules, almost certainly to the detriment of our clients, unless the Supreme Court can come to our aid when it hears the case of Owens v Owens.

Ever since 1969, there has only been one ground for divorce: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This has to be evidenced in one of five ways. The only bases on which a client could divorce more quickly are Adultery or Behaviour. Adultery is not always present and can be difficult to prove. Therefore, behaviour has become the most commonly used route to divorce.