Dissolution Of Parliament Means Bill Will Not Go Through
Another general election will result in the no-fault divorce bill being dropped, potentially setting back years of campaigning once more.
When Parliament officially shuts down today (6 November), the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, originally tabled by Baroness Butler-Sloss, will be dropped alongside all other ongoing bills.
The Bill was originally tabled following the high-profile case of Owens v Owens, where Tini Owens sought to divorce her husband but he had contested it. Mrs Owens was denied a divorce on the basis that the behaviour of her husband was not sufficiently bad that a reasonable person would not expect her to continue to live with him.
At the time the Supreme Court said it is for Parliament to decide if the law remains satisfactory – but political uncertainty around Brexit has stymied the latest bill several times.
Campaigners, MPs and legal experts have all called for no-fault divorce to be introduced. If done so, it will be the first change to divorce law in almost fifty years.
Family law experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell say it is unlikely the bill will be dropped for good due to public interest in the change.
Expert Opinion“After weeks of going back and forth, the no-fault divorce legislation has been dropped. It is a huge shame that political uncertainty is getting in the way of much-needed progress in the legal system once again.
“The sad case of Tini Owens in the Supreme Court last year was a clear sign that the law needs to change – nobody should ever be stuck in a marriage they do not want to be in. The public interest in the case goes to show no-fault divorce is needed more than ever in order to reflect our modern society.
“The current divorce system encourages unnecessary conflict in order to move ahead, creating friction between former spouses and their children which never needed to be there. I highly doubt this is the last we will see of no-fault divorce due to growing public support – it is gone for now, but very much not forgotten. Let’s hope this is temporary.” Ros Bever - Partner
No-fault divorce is not the only area of family law that have had campaigners asking for change, including cohabitation and surrogacy laws.
Ros continued: “There are several other areas of family law that need to change alongside no-fault divorce. Perhaps a radical overhaul of the current system is needed, but as it stands we are no closer to seeing any substantial change unless the new government decides to table them.”