It was announced on Tuesday that the government will be changing the laws surrounding divorce in England and Wales. It will be put into effect as soon as parliamentary time becomes available. The current law states that divorce can only proceed when a spouse claims their partner is at fault.


What does ‘at fault’ mean?

‘At fault’ is a vague term which can include committing adultery, desertion of the family or, most commonly, unreasonable behaviour. If no one admits blame, a couple need to live apart for two years before divorce proceedings can occur. If one spouse disagrees that the marriage needs to come to an end, they must live apart for five years before divorce proceedings can occur. This makes the divorce proceedings a long and drawn out process which can be emotionally painful and unsettling.


How long will this new type of divorce take?              

Lawmakers have thought it is important not to make divorce too ‘easy’. Much like marriage, it’s not a decision to be made hastily and if the divorce process was too quick some people may regret their decisions. The new law states that it must take six months from the initial petition to the decree absolute. This has been deemed an appropriate amount of time for the couple to adequately reflect on their decision and ultimately agree to go ahead with the divorce. At the end of this six-month period, the couple will have to re-affirm their decision for the divorce to be granted.


How does this affect families?

One partner needing to take blame puts families in a difficult position, as if blame is being assigned to one person the rest of the family could turn against them. This is especially true in the cases of couples with children, as it can make the children feel caught between their parents and affect their education or development. A mutual divorce would be a much healthier environment for a child of separating parents to be in.


Why has this happened?

This new law has been deemed as the biggest change in divorce laws in half a century. It is being put into place as the current fault-based system is seen as adding more tension and stress to an already emotionally draining process. Confrontation is common in divorce proceedings and this is only exacerbated when one person is ‘blamed’ for the breakdown of the marriage. This more mutual and reciprocated process is hoped to reduce conflict and trauma in the divorce process for all involved.


What can we do for you?

Are you experiencing a breakdown in your marriage? Do you wish to get a divorce without laying blame or fault on your current spouse? Beecham and Peacock have a team of expert lawyers trained in divorce proceedings who can deal with your case with tact and sensitivity. Call our divorce settlement specialists today on 0191 232 3048 to arrange a consultation to discuss your separation or divorce. 

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