A Bill to make divorce quicker and easier in England and Wales has been dropped because it ran out of parliamentary time.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill would have further liberalised our law, which already allows far too many divorces. The most recent figures available show that there were over 100,000 divorces in 2017.
Under the existing law, one of five ‘facts’ must be proven to show that a marriage has broken down irretrievably. These include matters of fault, like adultery. The five facts were set to be scrapped. Instead, the new system would have allowed someone to simply walk away from a marriage without having to give a reason and without their spouse being able to contest. This is often called ‘no-fault’ divorce.
Under the plans, there would have been a minimum legal period of just six months between the application for divorce and it being finalised, greatly reducing the opportunity for reconciliation.
Divorce causes great damage to spouses, children and society. We already have it at epidemic levels. The Bill would have made this worse and created enormous instability in marriage.
Institute Director Colin Hart has said, “We are already seeing a deeply worrying shift in young people’s attitudes, away from Christian marriage and lifelong commitment to your husband or wife. Forty-two percent of marriages already end in divorce but the Government is carrying on as if it wants it to be 100 per cent. Its approach to no-fault divorce is a marriage-wrecker’s charter.”
The Bill was dropped following the prorogation of Parliament in September 2019, but campaigners are keen for it to return in the future.