Children North East's Deputy Chief Executive Leigh Elliott welcomes the latest changes to divorce laws that will allow couples to part more amicably and therefore have less impact on family life


I was overjoyed this week to hear the news of the government plans to introduce no-fault divorce in England and Wales.

Current law

Under the existing Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, a spouse has to prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour for divorce proceedings to start. If a couple want a divorce and neither party admits blame, they must live apart for two years. If one spouse does not agree to ending the marriage, they must live apart for five years before a divorce is granted.

Positive Change

The new laws mean that couples will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and will include a minimum timeframe of six months from petition stage to a marriage being ended; this has been designed to allow couples to reflect on the decision.

The law will also prevent people from refusing a divorce if one partner wants to.  This is a positive change in the law without undermining marriage.

Impact on Families

PIggy back ride

We must take into consideration that a family still needs to function as a family after divorce in whatever form that is.  Divorce is a really upsetting and challenging time for everyone in the family. Divorce and separation affects children in different ways but emotional and behavioural problems are more common when parents are hostile towards each other. 

These proposals will assist in enabling a family to find resolutions and remain amicable following divorce. This is important for children and young people who are often at the centre of divorce.

How our contact centres can help

Father holding child

Children North East supports families through Divorce and separation. Our Newcastle based Contact Centres and services provide a neutral place for you and your child(ren) to meet when you no longer live at home. Our centres are child friendly and our services are designed to meet the unique needs of your family and circumstances.

We can also provide supervised contact in other local community settings to better suit the parent and child. Our centre is affiliated to the National Association of Child Contact Centres.

The centres are available to parents, carers, Local Authorities, Courts, CAFCASS, solicitors and all professionals working with separating families to help the children deal with the family separation.

There is a charge for this service, please get in touch to find out more using our contact us form or ring 0191 272 7824.

Read more about our Contact Centres

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