Divorce Process ‘Should Be Simplified’
The Ministry of Justice is currently considering making changes to the divorce process in England and Wales, but a new report has stressed the importance of simplifying it.
Reporting on the findings of the Nuffield Foundation, the Law Gazette pointed out that the process for getting a divorce in England and Wales is more complex than in many other countries around the world.
In many places, couples only have to go through one or two legal processes to finalise their divorce. In England and Wales there are three stages – the petition for divorce, the granting of a decree nisi and the application for the decree absolute.
The report cited California, where they abolished the need for interlocutory decrees (like the decree nisi) in the 1980s in part because of “concern that litigants in person were unaware of the need to apply for the final decree”.
In other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, decrees become final after one month.
As a result, the Nuffield Foundation is calling on the ministry to reduce the number of steps in England and Wales from three to two.
The country’s divorce law is already undergoing other changes. Last month, justice secretary David Gauke announced that the law surrounding divorce would be reformed during the next session in parliament to allow no-fault divorces.
At present, blame has to be attributed to one party to move the process forward.The alternative is for couples to apply for a divorce after two years of separation if they both agree, or they must wait until they’ve been living apart for five years.