You may have recently heard in the news that there may be a change in the law regarding fault-based divorces. These reports follow the recent High Court case of Tini and Hugh Owens, in which the Tini, the wife, wished to end the marriage but, Hugh, her husband, did not. On that basis, the Supreme Court felt that the marriage had not irretrievably broken down and ordered that the parties should stay married. Within their ruling the Judges indicated that they found the case “ very troubling” and also that it was “a case for Parliament”.
Following this case a press release from the Ministry of Justice was published on 15th September confirming that the Justice Secretary is launching a government consultation to review the law. Amongst other things the consultation will examine removing the need to show evidence of the other party’s conduct or a period of living apart and will consider removing the opportunity for the other spouse to contest the divorce application.
These potential changes are significant but many family lawyers believe they are long overdue and, if implemented, would mean that it is no longer necessary to cite the other party’s unreasonable behaviour or adultery as a reason to end a marriage when there has been less than a two year separation. The aim would then be to avoid or reduce conflict and help families focus on moving forward in a more positive way.