At present, unless a couple have lived apart for at least two years, the only option to commence divorce proceedings is for one person to accuse the other of adultery or “unreasonable behaviour”. Many family lawyers, including members of the specialist organisation “Resolution” have been calling for a change to current law, to avoid the need for one party to blame the other for the end of the marriage.

Former president of the family division, Baroness Butler-Sloss has introduced a Bill to the House of Lords, known as the “Divorce (etc) Law Reform Bill”, which is designed to encourage the government to make the first major changes to divorce legislation in nearly 50 years.

The Bill requires the government to review current law on divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships. On introducing the Bill, Baroness Butler-Sloss commented that the current law “is not fit for purpose”.

Research by experts has shown that current divorce law is causing needlessly painful and destructive break-ups. The requirement for one party to blame the other, in order to obtain a quicker divorce, often increases conflict between couples. This is unhelpful, when couples are trying to agree arrangements for child care, and an appropriate financial settlement.

The Bill requires the Government to consider a scheme, which would enable one or both parties, to register that their marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. The divorce or dissolution would then be granted, if one or both confirmed the application after a 9 month “cooling off” period.