Family affairs

In a recent article I wrote about the forthcoming proposed changes in divorce law following the Supreme Court decision in the matter of Owens v Owens. I explained that the “fault” factor would be removed so the issue of blame would not feature in the petition.

In this article I wish to highlight certain specific points regarding the proposed reforms. At present the so called “quickie” divorce is represented by an application for decree absolute six weeks and one day after the grant of decree nisi. The gap between decree nisi and absolute is to enable couples to have a cooling off period to reflect on their decision and to have that possibility of reconciliation, and in any event to work out issues concerning themselves and any children.

The proposal is to extend that cooling off period to six months, so that with the blame game out of the way, it doesn’t make divorce so easy , giving a longer period for couples to reflect on their actions. However another school of thought advocates that the six month period in the scenario of reform is not enough time as a cooling off period and with fault out of the way, it could make divorce “ fashionable” and too easy to obtain without proper reflection on the couple’s actions. That school of thought proposes a cooling off period of nine months.

However, it is a fact that no set time limit will work for all couples, so watch this space!

Furthermore, under the proposals for reform, couples could jointly petition for divorce. There would be no provision to contest (defend) proceedings.

The proposals for reform will apply equally to civil partnerships as to marriage, maintaining the sole ground for divorce being the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership.