The government is not trying to push through a ‘quickie divorce bill’, the lord chancellor has insisted, as legislation to reform the divorce process moved one step closer to becoming law.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which has been designed to remove what the government has called ‘needless antagonism’, passed a second reading in the Commons last night. However, the house was unusually divided – Labour welcomed the bill, while 12 of the 16 objections came from Conservative MPs.
Current law requires spouses to evidence at least one of five 'facts': adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years' separation (if the other spouse consents to the divorce), or five years' separation (if the other spouse disagrees). The bill will replace the requirement to evidence conduct or separation 'fact' with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown. The possibility of contesting the decision to divorce will be removed. The court will be able to make a conditional order after 20 weeks has passed from the start of proceedings.
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