Family Law

Eighth edition

by Kate Standley

Updates for Chapter 6: Divorce

May 2014 update

6.2 An attempt at reform

6.2 (c) The decision not to introduce the reforms

Part II of the Family Law Act 1996, except s 22 which is the only provision of Part 2 which is in force, has been repealed by section 18 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

6.3 The current law of divorce: an introduction

Divorce statistics: a decrease in divorce

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there was a small increase in the number of divorces in England and Wales between 2011 and 2012 (118,140 divorces in 2012 compared with 117,558 in 2011). However, the overall divorce rates have fallen sharply. Thus, whereas there was a record 165,000 divorces in 1993, there were only 118,000 in 2011. The fall in divorces is consistent with a decline in the number of marriages; and this may be due to the increasing number of couples who are choosing to cohabit rather than to enter into marriage (see Beaujouan and Bhrolcháin, ‘Cohabitation and marriage in Britain since the 1970s’ (2011) 145 Population Trends 35).

6.8 The future of divorce

A suggested ‘no fault’ system

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has called for the introduction in England and Wales of a ‘no fault’ system of divorce under which separations by mutual agreement would be permitted and which would be handled by registrars rather than by judges (Judicial Office Press Conference, 29 April 2014). He suggested that ‘fault’ as the basis for divorce was outmoded and argued that the time had come to separate the process of divorce from the division of matrimonial assets, thereby facilitating greater speed and reducing the pain divorcing parties often experience.

Further reading and references

Beaujouan and Bhrolcháin, ‘Cohabitation and marriage in Britain since the 1970s’ (2011) 145 Population Trends 35.



January 2014 update

Divorce statistics: a decrease in divorce

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), overall divorce rates have fallen sharply. Thus, whereas there was a record 165,000 divorces in 1993, there were only 118,000 in 2011.

An increase in divorces among the over 60s

According to the ONS the numbers of persons aged over 60 divorcing increased in the decade to 2011. Almost 9,500 men aged over 60 divorced during 2011, an increase of 73 per cent over the 1991 figures. Likewise the number of women aged over 60 divorcing almost doubled over the same period: from 3,200 in 1991 to 5,800 in 2011. According to the ONS, this increase is due to a number of social factors, such as that people are living longer and more women now work, making them less dependent on men for financial support.

6.6 Divorce procedure

Court fees for divorce (and civil partnership dissolution) increased

Revised court fees for family cases came into force on 1 July 2013, including court fees payable for a divorce order (or a civil partnership dissolution order). Thus, on presenting an application for divorce, a fee of £410 is now payable, an increase of £70, although the additional fee of £45 to obtain the divorce decree or order absolute, where the applicant has paid the issue fee of £410 for the petition, is no longer payable.
There were also other court fee increases (see 1.6).

6.8 The future of divorce

Reform of the law

Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court judge, said in 2013 (at a Family Law Conference) that an independent commission should take a ‘new and fresh’ look at divorce and financial provision law. He described the current divorce and financial provision law (and the law relating to unmarried partners) as being no longer fit for purpose as it was ‘designed in a wholly different era to deal with a wholly different society and way of life’.



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