Govt launches ‘no-reason’ divorce consultation

The Government has launched a consultation on removing the requirement to provide a reason for divorce.

Justice Secretary David Gauke confirmed proposals to introduce so-called no-fault divorce and remove the right to contest divorces.

The Christian Institute said the Government needed to be “doing more to keep marriages together not helping to break them up”.

Uncontestable

Currently, divorce claimants must cite adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or two years’ separation when the divorce is consensual, or five years’ separation otherwise.

But the Government wants to allow a spouse to simply notify the court of their intention to divorce and remove the opportunity for the other spouse to contest it.

Mr Gauke said the current system “creates unnecessary antagonism”, but campaigners say it allows couples time to reconcile.

Breakdown

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly told The Financial Times: “Every year thousands of couples use the time afforded by the current process to change their minds about divorce.

“But ‘no fault’ or rather ‘no reason’ divorce simply greases the skids for marriage breakdown.”

Trainee divorce lawyer Roxane Reiser told the BBC that no-fault divorce is more about ending a marriage quickly than it is about ending one harmoniously.

Reasonable waiting period

She said the two-year separation period allowed a reasonable amount of time for two adults to really consider if they want to divorce.

She added that if after the two years they do not agree, “particularly when there are children involved, I feel it is reasonable for the law to require them to think a bit harder and a bit longer”.

Riser continued: “Essentially, the law would be undermining marriage in such a way that becoming married would essentially be like renting a flat. You’re signing for a life term with a breakout clause after a year upon giving six months’ notice.”

She said among the penalties for breaking the contract early would be the “traumatised children who are going to have commitment and trust issues for the rest of their lives and probably a lot of counselling thereafter”.

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