No-fault divorce: House of Commons publishes new research

The Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the arguments for and against introducing no-fault divorce.

It was back in 2015 when Richard Bacon MP proposed a ten minute rule Bill that would allow ‘no-fault divorce’.

The No-Fault Divorce Bill would do away with the need for parties to prove that their spouse was at fault for their marriage breakdown.

As he explained, the Bill would add a sixth ‘fact’ to:

“…make provision for the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership when each party has separately made a declaration that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down without a requirement by either party to satisfy the Court of any other facts; and for connected purposes."

After a first hearing on 13th October 2015, the Bill went no further.

Since then, senior members of the Judiciary, The Mediation Task Force and Resolution have continued to call for the introduction of no-fault divorce.

This briefing also considers the recent Court of Appeal judgement in Owens v Owens, which sparked renewed calls for divorce law reform earlier this year.

Owens v Owens

The Court of Appeal’s highly unusual ruling refused ‘desperately unhappy’ Mrs Owens a divorce from her husband.

Despite his alleged unreasonable behaviour, and Mrs Owens’s affair with another man, Mr Owens successfully argued the 39-year marriage had not broken down irretrievably.

Commenting on the decision in March 2017, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, said aspects of the law and procedures are being based on “hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty.”

Download the no-fault divorce briefing

Click here to download the full briefing.

Sources: parliament.uk, Family Law Week.

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