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Bill to remove fault from the divorce process will restart its progress through Parliament

Posted: 20/12/2019

The much-welcomed Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Bill to remove fault from the divorce process was introduced into Parliament in June 2019.

Margaret Heathcote, chair of Resolution, the family justice professionals’ group, said: "We’re delighted that the government is introducing legislation which will help reduce conflict between divorcing couples. Every day, our members are helping people through separation, taking a constructive, non-confrontational approach in line with our Code of Practice.

“However, because of our outdated divorce laws, they’ve been working effectively with one arm tied behind their backs. These proposals have the support of the public, politicians and professionals. We therefore call on MPs and members of the House of Lords to pass this bill without unnecessary delay, and end the blame game for divorcing couples as soon as possible."

The bill does away with the five facts upon which one has had to rely, including adultery and behaviour, and replaces them with a statement made by one or both parties that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The bill will bring about so-called “no fault” divorce.

Since June, the passage of the bill has been a stop-go-stop process. It did not complete its passage before the unlawful prorogation of Parliament on 9 September so made no progress beyond the committee stage. But this was not the end of the bill as it featured in October’s Queen’s Speech and there was renewed optimism until it fell victim to the dissolution of Parliament for the General Election.

Now, although not specifically referred to in the December Queen’s Speech, the Government has announced that it will be reintroduced in the new parliamentary session.

There are many people waiting for “no fault” divorce to be brought in so they can apply for an amicable dissolution of their marriage and we are acting for several clients in exactly that position. Until the bill becomes law anyone wanting to divorce now must still rely on the old law based on fault if they cannot endure the two or five years' separation period.

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