A second reading of the No Fault Divorce Bill has been put back to March 11 this year.
The House of Commons was due to debate Conservative MP Richard Bacon’s private member’s bill on Friday, but this was delayed.
The bill seeks to introduce an extra ground for legal separation to the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act.
Under proposed reforms to the law, divorce would become available where both parties issued a joint petition and satisfied the court that the marriage had broken down irretrievably. A corresponding amendment in respect of dissolution would be made to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Currently, couples wanting to divorce have to provide the courts with evidence of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two year’s separation and consent or five year’s separation without consent.
With almost 100,000 children caught up in divorces each year, family lawyers say no fault divorce could be a better option to minimise the disruption for any children involved as it allows for a more amicable separation.
Resolution chair Jo Edwards said: “We know that our current fault-based divorce system achieves nothing besides escalating conflict during divorce. It does not act as a deterrent, nor does it help couples to salvage their marriage. The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 114,720 people divorced in England and Wales in 2013, despite fault-based petitions.
“Removing the blame from divorce, as proposed in Richard Bacon’s bill, would help couples who both wish to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives without the need for accusatory mud-slinging. This outdated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.”
Research published by Resolution shows that the fault-based nature of divorce in England and Wales is driving over a quarter (27%) of divorcing couples to make false allegations to the court.
New research exploring how the current law on the ground for divorce and civil partnership dissolution operates in practice is currently being undertaken by Liz Trinder of Exeter University.