NI falling behind England & Wales in terms of amicable divorce options
Married couples and families in Northern Ireland now have much fewer options than counterparts in England & Wales to move forward following relationship breakdown.
As of Wednesday 6 April, married couples in England & Wales will no longer have to make allegations about the conduct of their spouse in order to achieve a timely divorce, as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force.
In Northern Ireland, married couples will continue to only be able to achieve a divorce after being married for one year, and on the grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown.’
What does ‘irretrievable breakdown’ include?
- unreasonable behaviour
- two years’ desertion
- two years’ separation (with partner’s consent)
- five years’ separation
Whilst in the instances of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, a divorce can be triggered immediately in NI because they are ‘fault based,’ married couples otherwise have to wait a minimum of two years after separation before they can activate a non-fault based divorce. Is this fair?