A bill introducing “no-fault” divorces in England and Wales has been supported by MPs.
At present, to start divorce proceedings immediately, one spouse has to allege adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion has taken place.
Under the proposed law, they will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill which has been passed by the House of Lords also removes the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce.
Currently, if someone wishes to obtain a divorce without the consent of their spouse, they must live apart from them for five years.
Divorce proceedings will still be able to be challenged on certain grounds including fraud and coercion. At the moment, fewer than 2% of divorce cases are contested.
The bill also introduces a new option, allowing couples to jointly apply for a divorce, where the decision to separate is a mutual one.
The bill replaces the terms “decree nisi” and “decree absolute” with “conditional order” and “final order”. “Petitioners” will also become “applicants”.
Under the proposals, there must be a minimum six-month period between the lodging of a petition to the divorce being made final.