Justice Secretary David Gauke hints at changes to fault-based divorce law

Posted On: 
5th February 2018

Justice Secretary David Gauke has indicated he will look at changing the law on fault-based divorce. 

David Gauke said he would 'study the evidence' for a change in divorce laws
Credit: 
PA

To obtain a quick divorce under current rules, one or both members of a couple must allege a fault on their partner's part, or face having to wait two years.

That leads some couples to allege faults where they would rather not simply to speed up the process, according to legal experts.

Law Society says the benefits of family law changes will be undermined by legal aid cuts

Following a campaign from The Times, Mr Gauke said he would look at updating the law.

“I know The Times has campaigned vigorously for reform of family law, including fault-based divorce, and a number of respected figures have voiced their support for change," he said. "I acknowledge the strength of feeling on this issue and will study the evidence for change."

One of Mr Gauke's predecessors as Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay, strongly welcomed the news. He pointed out that MPs had already voted for a change in 1996 but the reforms had never been implemented.

“I am delighted that the new lord chancellor has indicated that he will look at the evidence for change," he said.

“It is now over 20 years since parliament, by a large majority in the House of Commons, passed a bill removing the need for making allegations of fault in order to obtain a divorce reasonably quickly.”

Ministers have also indicated a possible shake-up to family law with plans to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, following a campaign from Tory MP Tim Loughton.

Mr Loughton welcomed the announcement on divorce law as well, telling the Times: “We need to reform family law and make family arrangements fit for the 21st century.”