Proposed Divorce Reform


The current grounds for divorce are set out in a piece of legislation passed in 1973. Back then divorce rates were much lower than they are now (currently 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce) and divorce was still very much taboo. Therefore, whilst the 1973 legislation allowed for divorce, the grounds were limited to ensure a divorce could only take place where one party was at fault or the parties were separated for a period of 2 years or more.

Siobhan Rooney, Family Solicitor and Partner at Pictons Solicitors, says “the news that the Government is now considering amending the current legislation to provide for a ‘no fault’ divorce is received with open arms. This will align the UK divorce laws with the American system which allows for couples to divorce quoting ‘irreconcilable differences’ and I suspect will fast overtake the current most popular divorce ground of unreasonable behaviour.

There are many advantages of a no fault basis divorce; it takes the ‘sting’ out of proceedings, which helpfully sets a more conciliatory tone when looking at arrangements for the children and financial arrangements. It stops one spouse from using the petition as a weapon, showing it to the parties children or wielding it as proof of a person’s wrongdoing (in fact the court very rarely makes findings on the truth of the allegations set out in a petition). It will also help those whose culture still sees divorce as a shameful act and whose honour can be called into shame, or future marriage prospects impacted by the content of a petition.

The government has on many occasions threatened an overhaul of the divorce legislation, but has always run out of parliamentary time before a bill can be pushed through. Whether it will be possible to push reform through the Houses of Parliament due to the parliamentary time restraints  caused by Brexit remains to be seen.

The Pictons Solicitors Family Department offer a fixed fee initial consultation for anyone seeking to discuss any potential divorce proceedings and to help you understand all the options available to you. If you would like to book an appointment at either our Luton, Tring or Milton Keynes offices, please call the Family Department on 0800 302 9448.