At present if a married couple decide that they no longer want to be together there is no way that they can get divorced without one party blaming the other unless they wait for two years. Sometimes things just don’t work out but this shouldn’t mean that someone should take the blame.
Currently, to get divorced, couples must site one of the five following reasons on the Divorce Application:
- Unreasonable Behaviour
- Separated for 2 years and consent
- Separated for 5 years
However, planned new legislation will remove blame from the divorce process altogether and It will be a welcome change for many, with Divorce Legislation in England and Wales not having seen any changes for some 50 years.
There is not yet a clear time frame as to when the new legislation will come into force; indeed it could now take even longer than first anticipated because of the impact of Brexit.
The changes have come about following a recent decision in the Supreme Court involving Tini Owens a 68 year old lady. Mrs Owens lost her appeal and was refused permission to allow her to end her marriage to her husband of 40 years after he refused to consent. She will now not be able to divorce him until 2020.
We often see clients who are no longer happy in their marriage and are looking for a way out. However, we have no option under the current legislation, other than to advise them that they will need to think of some kind of unreasonable behaviour if they do not want to wait for two years to be divorced.
This process can make even the friendliest of separations turn very hostile. Allowing couples to separate amicably without pointing the finger of blame at one party, will allow families to separate in far friendly manner. This will be especially beneficial for those couples with children as it reduces the chance of hostility between the parties. Nobody wants to see their faults within the marriage set out in the divorce application even if the same is agreed; it only leads to a bitter end to the marriage no matter what the circumstances.
The changes in legislation will also help those who feel they are stuck in marriages because they know that their other half won’t agree to a divorce. Many victims of domestic abuse often feel this way as it is another form of control. The new rules will mean that a partner will not be able to refuse to divorce their spouse.
Some observers have criticised he proposed legislation because they say it makes divorce too easy. However, the new laws will have a time frame of six months from the application stage to the marriage being ended to allow couples time to reflect and consider their decision appropriately.
At present, however, we are left with the current legislation in place and if your application is based on unreasonable behaviour and your partner refuses to acknowledge the proceedings and ignores the papers they can be personally served by a Court Bailiff or a privately employed Process Server.
There are also applications that can be made to Court if you cannot locate your partner and they refuse to give you an address for service. If you can show the court in these circumstances that you have taken all reasonable steps in attempting to serve the papers on them, then in special circumstances they will allow the divorce to proceed.