Justice secretary supports no-fault divorce

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May 29, 2018
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Gauke said “I don’t think the best way of helping the institution of marriage is by putting bureaucratic hurdles in the way of a divorce”

Times Photographer Richard Pohle

Ministers have accepted that fault-based divorce laws need to be reformed to prevent “antagonism” between separating couples that would inflict harm on children.

David Gauke, the justice secretary, said the case for change was strong and that he was “increasingly persuaded ... that what we have at the moment creates more antagonism than we really need”.

His comments are the strongest indication yet that the government is prepared to reform the divorce laws in England and Wales.

In an interview with The Times, he said: “I don’t think the best way of helping the institution of marriage is by putting bureaucratic hurdles in the way of a divorce.” He said that ministers were “continuing to look closely” at the complex issue.

The Supreme Court case of Tini Owens, who claims to be locked in a loveless marriage because her husband refuses her a divorce, has highlighted problems in the law.

Gauke refused to comment on the case, but said: “Looking at it more widely, I do think the case for making it a less antagonistic system is strong.”

A campaign by The Times and the Marriage Foundation is calling for the fault-based divorce laws to be scrapped as part of reforms to end the bitter battles that are a hallmark of the system.

There is strong backing for a review of the divorce laws. Baroness Hale of Richmond, president of the Supreme Court, said that the reform would strengthen marriage.

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