Justice Secretary announces steps to end the blame game in divorce

The Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, has announced that he plans to bring in new legislation which will make it easier and quicker for couples to obtain a divorce without having to play the blame game.

The news follows a consultation which was launched in 2018, after the Supreme Court had ruled in Owens v Owens that Mrs Owens was not entitled to an immediate divorce.

Under the current law in England and Wales, if you wish to divorce you have to prove one of five facts to demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. In Owens v Owens, as Mr Mills did not agree to the divorce and Mrs Mills was unable to prove unreasonable behaviour – or any other fault, such as adultery or desertion – the law said that she could would have to wait until they had been separated for five years, before she could be granted a divorce without her husband’s consent. Click here for background information on Owens v Owens.

Angie Brown, senior family law solicitor and mediator at Mooney Everett Solicitors in Ormskirk, Lancashire welcomed the announcement:

‘Going through separation and divorce are distressing times and as family lawyers we work hard to keep channels of communication open and maintain a constructive dialogue between couples. So, forcing one or both people to lay blame on each other only adds to the stress and upset.’

‘Once one spouse has decided that they no longer wish to remain married, for whatever reason, then it is natural that they will want to end it formally so they can get on with their life.’

There has been mounting pressure on the government to modernise family law to reflect the changing character of family life in this country, and the responses to the government consultation were overwhelmingly in its favour.

Click here for more information on the consultation – which attracted nearly 600 responses.

Respondents included The Law Society, which urged the Ministry of Justice to restore legal aid so that separating couples can receive early legal advice.

It will take a little time for the new rules to come into force, so anyone thinking of separating or divorce should speak to a member of our family law team as soon as possible to understand their options at the present time.  Our team advises couples in Ormskirk, Lancashire, Burscough, Southport, Aughton, Rainford, Maghull and Skelmersdale.

For a confidential discussion, contact Angie Brown at Mooney Everett Solicitors on 01695 574 111 or email email hidden; JavaScript is required.


This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.