Divorce and domestic abuse reforms delayed as Parliament goes into shutdown

Major divorce and domestic abuse reforms have been dropped today as the prorogation of Parliament commences.

The planned closure of Parliament means that a number of major Bills, including the Domestic Abuse Bill and the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill must be reintroduced when Parliament reconvenes on 14 October.

Expecting lengthy delays to the Bill’s progress, the former Justice Secretary David Gauke said he was disappointed in Parliament’s decision to suspend proceedings.

“Disappointed that the suspension of parliament means that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has been dropped,” he said in a Tweet. “Divorce reform is long overdue and the bill had overwhelming support amongst the public and in Parliament. I hope Parliament can return to this asap.”

Proposing the new divorce laws in April this year, the Government said the revolutionary legislation – which will remove the need to attribute blame in the breakdown of a marriage – is set to “overhaul divorce law and reduce family conflict”.

Welcoming the divorce reform earlier this year, Aidan Jones, Chief Executive at relationship support charity Relate, said: “This much-needed change to the law is good news for divorcing couples and particularly for any children involved. The outdated fault-based divorce system led parting couples to apportion blame, often resulting in increased animosity and making it harder for ex-partners to develop positive relationships as co-parents.”

Meanwhile, the Domestic Abuse Bill will introduce major new changes to preventing the mistreatment of victims of domestic violence.

Peter Martin, Consultant with OGR Stock Denton, who has been a pioneer of Mediation and processes that reduce conflict, commented: “This legislation has been awaited ever since the 1996 Bill introducing no-fault divorce (which I supported) was blocked from being implemented and eventually scrapped by the Major Government.

“Unfortunately, the new Bill was delayed by well-meaning but complex and unnecessary proposed amendments.  I hope these Bills will be reintroduced, but there is no guarantee that these hugely important proposals will be.  I just hope it won’t be another 22 years to wait, as I will no longer be around!”

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