Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2017-19

The Government has introduced a Bill to reform the process for obtaining a divorce in England & Wales. The purpose of these changes is to remove the requirement to prove that a marriage has broken down irretrievably. In future, either spouse will be able to end a marriage without evidence of fault.

In this country , we currently have a fault based divorce system. You can read more about this in our previous blogs:

The Government has given its reasons for changing the current system:

The current legal process for divorce incentivises one spouse to make allegations about the other’s conduct to avoid otherwise waiting to divorce on the basis of at least two years of separation. Such allegations can set the scene for acrimony and conflict during the legal process and afterwards. This can be especially damaging for any children of the relationship. Instead, the legal process should better support couples to reflect on the decision to divorce, to reconcile if they can, and if they cannot do so to move forward as constructively as possible. This is particularly important for parents, as conflict is damaging to children’s life chances. Those life chances are improved by co-operative parenting and positive parenting relationships.


The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will make the following changes to the current law:

  • A spouse will be able to seek a divorce on the basis of irretrievable breakdown of their marriage without having to provide evidence or proof.
  • The other spouse will not be able to contest that decision to divorce. This will avoid cases where people cannot get divorced if their allegations of unreasonable behaviour are deemed insufficiently serious, as in the recent “Owens” case: Tini Owens loses Supreme Court divorce fight.
  • Introduce a 20 week “cooling off” period between issuing a divorce petition and receiving the decree nisi. The decree nisi will be renamed as “conditional order” and decree absolute as “final order”.
  • Allow both spouses to make a joint application for a divorce.

We note that while the government has introduced a minimum “cooling off” period of 20 weeks, and that this is in fact less time than the current 31 weeks which the courts are taking in practice to process divorces. Read more here: How Long Will My Divorce Petition Take in 2019?.

You can read the Bill in its entirety here: https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/divorcedissolutionandseparation.html

British Parliament Building
British Parliament Building by Sundar M
Get Expert Advice

You can contact us for confidential family law advice. We offer free, no obligation, telephone consultations for qualifying individuals.

If you would like to book an initial phone consultation at no cost, please contact us today.

Copyright 2013-2022 Rainscourt Law LLP. All rights reserved.