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Former minister not happy with divorce reforms

The former government minister, Ann Widdecombe, has made some controversial comments regarding the potential introduction of ‘over the counter’ divorces.

Ms Widdecombe told The Times: ‘Divorce is already too easy — it makes a nonsense of marriage. I am not saying, go back to the old days when divorce involved tricks and stratagems, but at least it should be something people have to think about and take a great deal of trouble over.’

‘It should not be like buying sweets over the counter, or discarding an old carrier bag.’

The ex government ministers comments came after plans under consideration by Sir James Munby, became public and it is thought the reforms will make obtaining a divorce even easier than at present.

The reforms would see the removal of the no-contest divorce from court and would see these divorces as purely an administrative matter.  By doing this the government hopes to unclog the courts and streamline the divorce process by removing uncontested divorces from the court system.

Sir Munby said: ‘There are countries where the system is that a divorce which is by consent and where there are no children is treated as an administrative matter dealt with by what, using our terminology, one might describe as the registrar of births, deaths, marriages and divorces. It seems to work.’

The governments senior family law judge went on to say he ‘would not contemplate it in cases other than cases where there is consent and cases where there are no children of the family’.

‘All one is doing is actually bringing a bit of intellectual honesty to the situation and getting rid of an unnecessary process which simply makes life more complicated.’

Interestingly the Office of National Statistics recently reported that figures show the number of couples divorcing has increased by 0.5 percent between 2011 and 2012.

The current divorce process is as follows

  1. You must be married for at least a year before you can apply for divorce.
  2. Only one person must apply to court for a decree nisi citing one of five reasons for the divorce:
  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two year separation with consent
  • Five year separation without consent
  • Desertion

When the decree nisi is granted, a decree absolute will be issued after 6 weeks, officially ending the marriage.


Thorneycroft specialist divorce solicitors offer expert help and advice on the legal and financial implications of a relationship breakdown. Each member of the team has the required skills to negotiate a financial settlement ensuring a positive outcome for you. 

IF you live in Macclesfield, Buxton, Holmes Chapel or surrounding areas and require divorce law advice or to discuss your separation in more detail please call one of our specialist solicitors now on FREEPHONE 0800 1979 345, or complete our simple enquiry form.