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Expert comment: Divorce law reforms in the UK

Dr Maebh Harding from Warwick Law School comments on the UK reforms of divorce law, which will see couples able to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably rather than one spouse alleging adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other for divorce proceedings to begin. She says:

“The proposed changes to the divorce process in England and Wales are a cause for celebration. Current divorce law requires couples to blame one spouse for the end of the relationship or to wait for 2-5 years before beginning legal proceedings. However, comparative and historical studies of divorce law show that an onerous divorce system does nothing to ‘save’ marriages. Blame-based divorce law just causes acrimony and unnecessary upset at a difficult time. Long mandatory separation periods are expensive and unnecessary. Spouses do not come to the decision to end their marriage lightly. Deciding to apply for divorce often marks the end of a difficult breakdown process. It is simplistic to think that legal structures can fix complicated personal relationships.

"The latest statistics from the ONS show that the divorce rates in England and Wales are at their lowest level since 1973. The majority of divorce petitioners make use of the blame-based pathways to divorce to avoid delay and expense. Reforms that make the journey through the legal system easier for divorcing couples will not lead to an increase in marital breakdown. However, by making the process easier, speedier, less antagonistic and a bit cheaper we may see a small short-term rise in divorce as couples who would otherwise have lived separate lives without divorcing, and cohabited with their new partners may choose to make use of a more appropriate and modern legal process in order to move on with their lives.”

ENDS

9 APRIL 2019

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager 
University of Warwick 
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice dot j dot scott at warwick dot ac dot uk