- “No-fault divorce” to finally become law after decades of campaigning
- New law will end the blame game in divorce
- Reform will make divorce “kinder and more civilised,” says leading family lawyer
No-fault divorce has been given the green light as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill cleared the final stages of parliamentary scrutiny in the House of Commons. It culminates a 30-year campaign by Resolution, the national family justice body, to end the requirement for couples to assign fault in order to be granted a divorce.
During the committee and remaining stages in the Commons, the Bill received support from all sides of the House, following its previously swift passage through the Lords and Commons. Several amendments were tabled but were either withdrawn or overwhelmingly defeated.
The new law will mean that divorcing couples will no longer need to assign blame – at present, couples seeking a divorce in England and Wales must either spend a minimum of two years separated; or one must blame the other for the marriage breakdown, citing adultery or behaviour.
Once the Bill receives royal assent there will be a number of changes to rules, procedures and forms that will be necessary. This will take time but it is hoped that no-fault divorces will start to take place in 2021.
Welcoming the development, Resolution’s National Chair, Margaret Heathcote, said:
“Our members have been campaigning for change for years, in Westminster and in towns and cities across the country where they work. They’re all committed to reducing conflict between separating couples, but our outdated divorce laws have meant they’ve been working with one hand tied behind their back.
“This new law will mean they’re better able to support couples to resolve matters as constructively and amicably as possible, minimising the impact on any children they may have.”
Nigel Shepherd, former Chair of Resolution and long-time campaigner for no-fault divorce, added:
“This is the biggest reform of divorce laws in England and Wales in over fifty years, demonstrating just how outdated and old-fashioned fault-based divorce is. This victory would not have been possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of our members, who wrote to and met with their local MPs in support of our campaign.
“We worked closely with the Ministry of Justice on this Bill and look forward to continuing to work with them to implement the new law as soon as possible so that we can start helping separating families more effectively.”