‘New divorce laws will rescue people like me who are trapped in an abusive marriage’

A new act, commonly referred to as the “No-Fault Divorce”, was rolled out on April 6 and means married couples or people in a civil partnership can split without having to assign blame

The “No-Fault Divorce” was rolled out in England and Wales on April 6 (stock image)

A domestic abuse survivor says an overhaul of divorce law rolled out this week will be “game-changing” for women who desperately need to escape violent marriages.

A new law – known as the “No-Fault Divorce” – will allow married couples and Brits in a civil partnership to split without needing to assign blame.

Before April 6 in England and Wales, the only way to obtain a divorce without an agreement from a spouse was to live apart for five years.

Exceptions were also granted in cases involving adultery or unreasonable behaviour, Manchester Evening News reports.

Campaigners have been calling for the “outdated” system to be modified for years, with research showing 65 per cent of people who took the blame for a divorce so they could end their marriage later claimed it wasn’t their fault.

They believe the new law will help couples more forward without unnecessary conflict,

Most importantly – the change in law will mean domestic abusers won’t be able to keep their spouse locked into an unhappy or violent marriage.

Before the new law, both had to agree on the divorce except in cases involving adultery or unreasonable behaviour.


Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In the past, violent partners have been able to use their ability to challenge the process to further harm their victims or trap them into a relationship.

Elaine Parker, 42, who was engaged to a man she met on Plenty of Fish before he became abusive, has welcomed the change to the “antiquated” divorce laws, saying it will allow men and women in violent marriages to leave without having to make allegations about their spouse.

Speaking to the MEN, she said: “It makes my blood run cold to think about what it would have been like for me if I was married to my abusive partner.

“To have to prove unreasonable behavior would be very frightening and I would have been left feeling very trapped and unable to file for divorce.”

Elaine has recently launched a new dating app, called Safer Date which claims to be the only dating website which carries out mandatory ID and background checks on members.

Her own fiancé was well known to the police and had a history of domestic violence, but he was able to join Plenty of Fish easily.

“It was hard enough for me to leave him when we weren’t married,” she said.

The law will prevent men and women from being locked into unhappy or violent marriages (stock image)


Getty Images/Eye Em)

“It’s really not that simple when you are in a violent relationship or marriage. The divorce law has been so antiquated for years. If you are the one that is being abused – to have to report what is being done to you can have so many negative repercussions.

“The fact that you can now leave a marriage amicably is an absolute game changer for people in an abusive relationship.

“Until now, abusers have used the pitfalls of divorce law to trap victims in marriage because they were able to contest the allegations. It’s finally been recognized how outdated the original law is and I’m pleased to see these changes implemented. ”

Elaine is now calling on the government to assess and potentially reduce the 20-week cooling off-period which will be in place between starting proceedings and applying for a conditional order – which she says is a long period of time when you’re in an abusive marriage.

As part of the reforms, the government has also launched a new investigative approach pilot, in North Wales and Dorset, which aims to improve information sharing between partner agencies to better deal with cases involving domestic abuse.

“It is also reviewing the presumption of parental contact in cases where abuse is alleged to ensure children are kept safe.

Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said: “The breakdown of a marriage can be agonizing for all involved, especially children.

We want to reduce the acrimony couples endure and end the anguish that children suffer.

“That’s why we are allowing couples to apply for divorce without having to prove fault, ending the blame game, where a marriage has broken down irretrievably, and enabling couples to move on with their lives without the bitter wrangling of an adversarial divorce process.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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