'˜No-fault divorces' to be considered as Government plans major shake-up
Divorce laws are set for a major shake-up, with proposals for no-fault separations under consideration.
Justice Secretary David Gauke is expected to launch a consultation on plans for reform after previously saying he wanted a "less antagonistic" system.
Under the current law in England and Wales, unless people can prove there was adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain aÂ divorceÂ without their spouse's agreement is to live apart for five years.
The Ministry of Justice refused to confirm or deny reports about the details of the consultation, but Mr Gauke has said there was a "strong" case for reform.
In May he told The Times: "The more I look at it the more I am concerned that the current system does create a degree of unnecessary antagonism in an already difficult and sensitive set of circumstances."
On Thursday ministers confirmed the law was being examined.
Government spokeswoman Baroness Vere of Norbiton told peers: "We are looking at ways to reduce conflict in aÂ divorce, whether that can be no-fault, whether that can be under financial provisions, whether that can be for enforceable nuptial agreements."
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said: "Labour is fully committed to introducing no-faultÂ divorceÂ proceedings.
"Instead of yet another consultation, the Conservatives should get on with changing ourdivorceÂ laws so that they are fit for the 21st century."
Fiona Snowdon, family law expert at Simpson Millar, said: "We are absolutely delighted to hear that the Government is set to announce a consultation on no-faultÂ divorce.
"UKÂ divorceÂ law has not been updated in almost 50 years, and as such is archaic, outdated and incompatible with the 21st century.
"Divorce can be a painful, drawn out experience. A no-faultÂ divorceÂ would inject some much needed autonomy and practicality into the process."
She added: "This announcement suggests that we are finally moving in the right direction, and we could not be more pleased."
Pressure for reform has intensified after Tini Owens lost a legal battle toÂ divorceÂ her husband.
She had told the Supreme Court that her 40-year marriage to Hugh Owens was "loveless" and "broken down" and she said she wanted aÂ divorce.
She said he had behaved unreasonably and said she should not reasonably be expected to stay married.
But Mr Owens had refused to agree to aÂ divorce, justices heard, and denied Mrs Owens's allegations about his behaviour.
The Supreme Court ruled against her in July, but Lord Wilson said justices had come to the ruling "with reluctance".
He said the "question for Parliament" was whether the law governing "entitlement todivorce" remained "satisfactory".