A No Fault Divorce Bill is to receive a second reading in the new year, Parliament has confirmed.
MPs have been urged to give serious consideration to changes in divorce laws, which have been floated a number of times in the past but never passed beyond the discussion stage.
Backbench MP Richard Bacon is spearheading efforts for significant reforms, which would enable couples to divorce purely on the basis that both parties agree that their marriage has irreconcilably broken down.
Online research carried out by OnePoll found that 85 per cent of people questioned believed no fault divorce – where neither party has to admit wrongdoing – should be available.
At present, married couples seeking divorce have to provide the courts with evidence of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation with consent (2 years) or separation without consent (5 years).
Jo Edwards, chair of family law association Resolution, believes that a change in current legislation is well overdue.
“We know that our current fault-based divorce system achieves nothing besides escalating conflict during divorce,” she said.
“It does not act as a deterrent, nor does it help couples to salvage their marriage. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that 114,720 people divorced in England and Wales in 2013, despite fault-based petitions.
“Removing the blame from divorce, as proposed in Richard Bacon’s bill, would help couples who both wish to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives without the need for accusatory mud-slinging. This outdated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.”
The Bill will return to the House of Commons on January 22nd.