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Call for new divorce laws to be implemented sooner rather than later


A family law expert, at Yorkshire solicitors Lupton Fawcett, has called for moves to put an end to the divorce ‘blame game’ to be implemented sooner rather later.

Justice secretary Davide Gauke has pledged that no-fault divorce will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time becomes available.

Chris Burns, a Partner and Head of the Family Law Department at the firm, which has offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield, said the new legislation is long overdue.

Under the current law (the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) someone wanting to end a marriage either has to prove their spouse is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

If both sides agree, they can divorce after two years apart. However, if there is no evidence of fault or both parties do not consent then they must wait until they have been living apart for five years before being granted a divorce.

A statement of irretrievable breakdown will replace the requirement for evidence of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

Mr Burns said: “This long overdue announcement is to be welcomed and I would hope that there will not be too much of a delay in the changes in the law being passed by Parliament.”

He added: “Couples having to wait years for a no-fault divorce or forcing one partner to take the blame can make what is an already distressing and heart-breaking situation even worse, especially if there are children involved.

“In my experience, marriages can breakdown because being together no longer is right for the couple involved. Having an adversarial system often only makes matters worse and can prevent people from being able to forge an amicable relationship after splitting up.

“The new reform will modernise the divorce system and allow those trapped in a loveless marriage to end it quicker, making it as painless as possible.”

 The reforms also will banish the ability for one spouse to contest a divorce by challenging the blame attributed to them with the process between the petition and the divorce being finalised taking a minimum of six months under the new system.

They also will allow parties to jointly apply for a divorce where the decision is mutually accepted.

To listen to Chris' interview on BBC York click the link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NbEcVRe-Ic

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