Following the consultation launched last autumn, the justice secretary, David Gauke, confirmed last Friday that the government is committed to introducing legislation to reform divorce law in the next Parliamentary session, which is scheduled to start in May. The reform will remove the need for couples to wait years after separating or allocate blame for the breakdown of their relationship.
Speaking to The Times, Gauke stated that responses to the consultation “were overwhelmingly in support, which is why I remain as convinced as I have been for the need to reform this particular area.'
He then went on to add:
'I need to go through the formal processes in government but my ambition will be to bring that legislation at the earliest opportunity, which will be in the next session of parliament."
The news was greeted with approval from family lawyers, with former Chair of Resolution Nigel Shepherd saying:
"From the Secretary of State's remarks today, it is clear that the responses to the consultation have demonstrated overwhelming support for this important reform, and we're pleased the government are so firmly behind it.”
“Our members, and the families they work with, will be delighted that, after years of campaigning, we are now so close to ending the 'blame game' that many divorcing couples are currently forced to play.”
Chris Longbottom, partner at the Manchester office of national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, stated:
“Changing the current system to allow couples to separate with neither partner being at fault can only serve to reduce the conflict and distress that some have to face unnecessarily.”
“Avoiding the need to raise allegations right at the start of the divorce will allow parties to concentrate on reaching a settled position on other important issues – such as child arrangements and financial matters.”