Government to Review Divorce Laws in England and Wales – 2018Posted on 20th September 2018 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors
Following the recent publicity following the Supreme Court verdict of the Owens vs Owens case, the government has revealed initial plans to consider reforming divorce laws in England and Wales. The potential changes, which many have called for during and proceeding Ms. Owen’s failed appeals to the courts, revolve around introducing a ‘no blame’ route to divorce, in order to minimise hostility during the divorce process.
Background of Owens vs Owens
Tini Owens originally filed for divorce from her husband, Hugh Owens, on the grounds that their marriage had irretrievably broken down. Her petition included examples of Hugh’s behaviour which, she felt, had left her feeling unloved, isolated and alone. Her husband refuted the accusations, which meant the case went to the courts – where it was dismissed. Ms Owen’s appeals were also unsuccessful, meaning she would have to wait until 2020 until she’s able to divorce her husband without his permission.
Consequences of Owens vs Owens
The main consequence of this ruling, delivered by Supreme Court, is the greater public awareness – and demand – for ‘no fault’ divorces. The stress involved with the Owens vs Owens case, it is argued, could have been avoided from the beginning if England and Wales offered the option for a ‘no blame’ divorce. With the current divorce process, Ms Owens was forced to attribute blame on her husband – an act which invites disagreement should the other party feel at all differently. This has lead to the present situation where Ms Owens, under existing divorce laws, must wait a further two years until she can legally divorce her husband.
But despite losing her claim, the sheer publicity of the case has allowed the ‘no blame’ divorce conversation to ignite, and it now looks set to be discussed and integrated by the government.
Changing divorce laws in England and Wales
The government has ordered a consultation to figure out the potential details and processes of a ‘no fault’ divorce. This could lead to landmark changes to the divorce laws in England and Wales – laws which have been in place for over half a century.
Under new proposals, partners would no longer be able to block divorce from going through.
Pressure to introduce ‘no fault’ divorces has been mounting for years, and following Ms Owens public battle with the courts, many feel the law are severely outdated and an overhaul is required.
The benefits of a ‘no fault’ divorce
The existing divorce process forces partners to place blame in order to justify the breakdown of the marriage. This can lead to hostility, abrasive defense and longer, drawn out divorces which can take their toll on those involved. With the introduction of a ‘no fault’ divorce, couples would have the option of seeking divorce on a much more amicable footing.
Many feel ‘no fault’ divorce will open up greater opportunity for discussion or mediation, allowing couples to come to a mutual understanding rather than fighting out their differences in court. It may streamline the divorce process and remove much of the stress and difficulty which presently exists.
The government is expected to reveal the results of the consultation in the coming months, and are remaining tight-lipped until then. Campaigners feel that this is the turning point they’ve been after, bringing English and Welsh divorce law more in line with other countries in the EU – France has offered ‘no fault’ divorces since the 1970s, where it remains the most popular route to divorce for couples across the country.
It could be the case that, in the near future, England and Wales have an animosity-free option for divorce, which would be the single biggest revolution to our divorce laws in modern history.
At Goodwins, we provide a range of services to help you through the divorce process from start to finish. We provide a fixed–fee consultation service for some initial guidance for your case, and our team of experienced divorce solicitors will offer insightful and personable legal aid to help you earn the best possible outcome in your divorce. To find out more, simply contact us today.