Supreme Court Judge calls for reform of divorce law 13 Apr 2015

The most senior female Judge in England and Wales, being The Right Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond (Deputy President of The Supreme Court) has called for reform in divorce law.

Baroness Hale wants divorce law reformed to reduce conflicts and the use of court time. She proposes that couples have a one year ‘cooling off’ period after deciding that their marriage has broken down. They would then have time to consider how best to sort out what happens with the family home, and the financial split, as well as how to share the care of the children, before commencing the divorce.

Once the divorce starts she recommends that there is an end to the fault-based facts a Petitioner can cite in the Petition, being adultery or unreasonable behaviour. The Matrimonial Causes Act came into force in 1973 and sets out the facts that can be used in a divorce petition. Times have changed since then, but that law has not, and many people do not know that ‘irreconcilable differences’/no-fault divorce, is not applicable to English Law.

It can be very difficult for couples who want an amicable split, that their case starts off with pointing the finger of blame at the other in the divorce petition, by citing either adultery or unreasonable behaviour – unless they want to wait two years, this is what they have to do.

The media reports that Baroness Hale’s proposals are widely backed by Lawyers.

To speak with Lisa Pepper on this or any other family law issue contact Lisa by calling 020 7485 8811 or e-mailing

Lisa is a partner and specialist divorce lawyer in London, in the family law department at Osbornes. Lisa is head of our Collaborative practice and is a trained Mediator.

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