No-fault divorces will be granted

Emma Hamilton Cole
Emma Hamilton Cole

Legislation to allow no-fault divorces moved a step closer after Justice Secretary, David Gauke, confirmed he will bring in legislation to reform divorce laws in the next session of parliament – respected Dorset solicitor, Emma Hamilton Cole comments.
Plans to reform divorce laws in England and Wales are likely to be introduced in the next session of parliament, according to the Justice Secretary, David Gauke.

Current divorce laws have come under-fire for being ‘archaic’ and ‘outdated’. Under the current Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, anyone seeking divorce has to prove that their partner is at fault due to adultery, desertion or ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Otherwise, if both sides agree to divorce, they can do so after two years of separation.  Without either of these circumstances, divorce applicants have to wait five years before a divorce can be started.

The calls for changes to the divorce law were discussed in 2018, encouraged by the Tini Owens case. Her divorce suit was rejected by the Supreme Court in July, after her husband, Hugh Owens, defended the case. Married for 40 years, Tini applied for divorce on the grounds that she was unhappy in the marriage. The appeal being rejected means that Tini will have to remain married until she is eligible to divorce on separation grounds in 2020.

However, under the proposed changes, couples will be able to apply for a ‘no fault’ divorce.  The concept is not new as no-fault divorces were originally introduced by the Family Law Act 1996, but it was quickly repealed.  Reform is welcomed where it avoids allegations being made at the very outset, which can heighten acrimony.  This then negatively impacts on the negotiations over arrangements for children and money later on.

Emma Hamilton Cole, Head of Family Law at award-winning Christchurch solicitors, Williams Thompson, has commented on the reforms to divorce laws. A respected local solicitor, Emma is also a Board Member of the Dorset Family Justice Board and member of Resolution who intervened in the case of Mr and Mrs Owens to press the case for no -fault divorce
Emma Hamilton Cole said:
“Williams Thompson welcome the proposed changes to current divorce laws, which are antiquated and old-fashioned. The proposed changes should enable divorce to be simpler and less contentious.  We are hoping this will help couples move to more constructive negotiations on the important issues such as children arrangements and financial matters – just how it should be.”

David Gauke will bring forward the legislation to reform the divorce law in the next session of parliament.

For more information on the changes to divorce laws, visit


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