Supreme court decision: a step closer to a no fault divorce?
By Timothy Wilton 26/07/2018
A recent Supreme Court decision has applied pressure to Parliament to consider the state of divorce law in England and Wales.
The current law requires proof that the marriage has broken down irretrievably in order to obtain a divorce. You may divorce someone on the basis of their behaviour or adultery, but under current rules, if neither of these apply, you must wait till you have been separated for at least two years. In other words, the court must always find fault with one party to be able to grant a divorce. The nearest to a ‘no fault’ divorce under current rules allows married couples to request a divorce when they have been separated for two years or more.
The recent case of Owens v Owens asked the court to consider whether it was possible for Mrs Owens to divorce her husband on the basis that she was ‘desperately unhappy’ . Mr Owens would not consent to a divorce. She therefore asked the court to grant a divorce based on her husband’s behaviour. This was originally allowed, but Mr Owens appealed and was successful.
Finally the matter has been heard by the Supreme Court, who have upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision. The Supreme Court have said however that this situation is archaic, and have asked Parliament to reconsider the law as it stands.
Many other jurisdictions have the capability of granting no fault divorces.
The no fault divorce has been something long discussed in the English and Welsh legal system, but as of yet, has not happened. It is quite possible that this recent decision could prompt a change in the law, removing the need for parties to place blame in what can already be a difficult and stressful situation.