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Since 1973 the only ground for divorce has been irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.This can only be proven in one of 5 ways: adultery, unreasonable behaviour and 2 years separation with the consent of the other party being the most commonly used.

This immediately creates a hostile situation, as one party has to successfully raise one of these grounds against the other party, at a time when financial and emotional energies could be better spent sorting out the family finances and arrangements for the children.

This can create a very real problem where one party has concluded that the marriage has irretrievable broken down but the other party choses to defend the divorce proceedings. To take matters forward then involves a public trial of the allegations. This can be a very real problem, as shown in the case of Tini Owens, who is at present asking the court of appeal to overturn a decision of a lower court judge, who refused to allow her petition for divorce. The vast majority of divorces go through undefended so it is unusual to have a defended divorce and even more unusual for a divorce petition to be refused.

However, notwithstanding widespread calls for a No Fault based divorce system, the government, through the justice minister and House of Lords spokesperson Lord Keen, recently indicated that the government “… have no current plans to change the existing law on divorce ”.

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