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He Said, She Said..! PART 2

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We recently wrote about how justice secretary David Gauke planned to bring forward long awaited legislation that will remove the need for separating couples to allocate blame before seeking a divorce. You can read this blog in full by clicking here.

There has now been an announcement by the government today to introduce new divorce legislation which, in the words of David Gauke, will end the ‘blame game’ among divorcing couples.

The announcement comes following a 12 week public consultation where there has been strong support for the introduction of no fault divorce.

David Gauke has said;

“While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples…so I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good”

Campaigners have long pushed for the introduction of no fault divorce arguing that the current system of alleging fault on the part of one party often sets the scene for an acrimonious divorce which all too often has a negative impact on the children of the family who may feel that they have to take sides.

As Aidan Jones OBE, Chief Executive of Relate (the relationship support charity) stated:

“As a large body of evidence shows, parental conflict is damaging to children’s wellbeing and chances in life, whether the parents are together or separated. It’s good that the government has listened and taken action on this, demonstrating commitment to reducing parental conflict.”

There are a number of proposals for the change to the current law which can be found in detail here. Among the most significant however is the proposal to remove the ability of one party to contest a divorce. There is also a proposal to create the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option for one party to initiate the process.

There are of course concerns that the introduction of no fault divorce will lead to marriage being seen as disposable. There is however a proposal to introduce a minimum timeframe of 6 months between when a petition for divorce is made and when the divorce can be finalised. The Government has stated that this will allow a “meaningful period of reflection” and the “opportunity to turn back”.  This seems to strike a balance between removing the conflict caused by the current need to allege fault on one party whilst also upholding the institution of marriage.

The Ministry of Justice has stated that new legislation would be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.

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