Existing UK divorce laws mean spouses have to provide evidence for a divorce if one partner does not agree to it.
For the first time in 50 years, UK divorce laws are being overhauled in an attempt to end the “blame game” for couples trying to end their marriage.
Current laws in England and Wales dictate that unless someone can prove there was adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to get divorced without a spouse’s agreement is to live apart (be separated) for five years.
The new laws state that one side will now only have to submit a “statement of irretrievable breakdown” to say the marriage has broken down; instead of having to provide evidence about length of separation or their spouse’s behaviour. In addition to this,the ability of one partner to contest a divorce will also be scrapped.
The existing two-stage process of a decree nisi, a document which says the court cannot see any reason why you cannot divorce, followed by a decree absolute, the legal document which ends a marriage, will remain the same; however, a six month minimum period will be introduced between the lodging of a petition to the divorce being made absolute.
Couples will also be able to make joint divorce applications, alongside the current option for one partner to start the process.
Similar changes will also be made to the law governing the dissolution of civil partnerships.
The overhaul follows a government consultation last year, when details of the proposals were first unveiled.
The Ministry of Justice said the new legislation is expected to be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.