When things go wrong in a marriage, the consequences can be far-reaching and emotionally damaging for both parties.
Divorce can currently only be granted without a spouse’s consent if they have lived apart for five years, or if the marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion. Even if separation is mutual, couples must live apart for a minimum of two years before divorcing (these are known as the ‘five facts’).
However, all this could change as the UK Government has launched a consultation to make ‘no fault divorce’ part of the law as an attempt to take some of ‘the sting’ out of the divorce process.
Danny Hudson, partner and family law solicitor at Warrington-based Watsons Solicitors, is welcoming the proposed changes.
The divorce specialist and member of the Law Society Family Law Panel said: “Removing the need to apportion blame for a marriage failing is a long time coming. It will be a landmark moment for divorce law and will hopefully result in less acrimonious proceedings.
“The current system is archaic and makes the process complex and often stressful at an already emotional time, particularly if children are involved.”
The case of Tina Owens, who was refused a divorce on the grounds of being unhappy in her marriage, forcing her to remain married until 2020, highlighted the current system and put pressure on the Government to review the law.
Danny added: “Tina Owens’ case highlighted how out-dated the current divorce system is.
“The proposed changes are said to introduce ‘the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage’ as the sole ground for divorce without having to use one of the ‘five facts’.
“Should the changes be approved, it is hoped they will pave the way for more amicable separations.”
Danny advised anyone seeking advice to speak to a specialist divorce solicitor at Watsons Solicitors. Once the parties have come to the sad conclusion that divorce is the only option there are often complicated factors such as the division of capital, pensions, maintenance queries and arguably the most important issue – what happens with the children. Seeking expert advice is essential.
“We offer a fixed-fee divorce package,” he said. “We also offer an initial consultation free of charge, so you can sound out a divorce expert without any obligation.”
Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family law, employment law, wills and probate, and conveyancing.
The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.
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