The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 transferred litigation from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts to the civil courts, established a model of marriage based on contract rather than sacrament, and extended the possibility of divorce beyond those who could afford to bring an action for annulment or promote a private bill. Let`s take a look at the origins of divorce and how it has changed for men over time. In 1937, the Marital Causes Act made further amendments to the 1857 Act. Until 1937, people could divorce for adultery and cruelty, rape, bestiality or incest. The changes of the 1930s added cruelty, incurable insanity and desertion to the list of valid grounds for divorce. If you would like to discuss your situation with a lawyer, contact KMJ Solicitors today. Contact our divorce lawyers via our online contact form or call us on 020 3709 6895. As you can see from the timeline, over time, the divorce process has evolved significantly to become the practice used in our courts today. However, the UK family courts still need to be improved. This blog was written before the law change in April 2022 that introduced guiltless divorce.
For advice on your personal situation, use a free telephone appointment with one of our lawyers – book here. Since divorce was first introduced into English law in the time of Henry VIII, there have been significant changes. Yet you still often hear people complain about the obscure nature of divorce proceedings. Henry VII is considered the father of divorce. It was he who broke with Rome in the first place, allowing him to divorce without papal consent, but at that time the ecclesiastical courts retained the power to dissolve marriages. The other day I read Catherine of Aragon`s letter in which she asked the pope to intervene in his separation from Henry VIII, which went under the hammer. It was interesting to note that even then, she realized in the divorce: “There is no decision that can be made, which will not bring great harm in the future.” I`m sure many divorced couples would agree with this statement. This allowed couples to divorce after being separated for two or five years (if only one of them wanted a divorce). Moreover, this act of divorce allowed the possibility that a marriage was simply “broken” rather than someone being at fault. In 2018, the problems of the current divorce system became national news with the case of Owens v Owens. When Tina Owens filed for divorce from her husband, he protested the divorce and the courts sided with him.
The judge said the reasons for Tina Owen`s divorce were “exaggerated” and “fragile”. Tina Owens appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was dismissed under the law at the time. This decision meant that Tina Owens was forced to stay in an unhappy marriage until she could file for divorce on separation grounds after five years in 2020. Historically, divorce as such was not performed by lawyers practicing in common law courts, but by “lawyers” and “overseers” who practiced civil law from Doctors` Commons, adding to the ambiguity of the procedure.  Divorce was de facto limited to the very wealthy, as it required either a complex annulment procedure or a private member`s bill that resulted in an Act of Parliament, with high costs for both. The latter has given rise to sometimes lengthy debates on the intimate conjugal relationship of a couple in public in the House of Commons.  In English law, there is only one “ground for divorce”. That is, the marriage is irreparably broken. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 provides that a marriage must have lasted three years before an application for divorce can be filed; The Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 reduced this period to one year.  Divorce was officially introduced into English law in 1670. Men can file for divorce for adultery or life-threatening treatment. This required an Act of Parliament and was a very expensive process, so it was only requested by the very wealthy.
After the divorce was finalized, the men kept all their property and money, and all the legitimate children of the marriage remained with them. While it may have been a viable system, critics have explained that it forces couples to divide responsibilities instead of focusing on working together. In addition, a 2017 report showed that only 65% of applicants believed that the facts used for divorce corresponded to their true reasons for divorce. Significantly, only 29% of respondents (the person who was blamed) felt that the real reason matched the facts. William Murphy, a former British banker, ended up with £450,000 of his £3 million fortune after his divorce in 2009. The couple`s property was split 65/35 in favour of Mrs. Murphy. After World War I, there were reforms to the divorce law that made men and women more equal. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1923 made adultery a ground for divorce for both spouses.
Previously, only man had been able to do this; Women had to prove additional guilt.   Another 1937 statute (the Matrimonial Causes Act 1937) provided additional grounds for divorce: cruelty, desertion and incurable insanity.  The need for reform was illustrated in the bestselling satirical novel Holy Deadlock (1934). From April 2022, couples will be able to divorce without blaming each other. The new law, which allows no-fault divorce on their part, was initially announced by the UK government in February 2019 and received royal approval in June 2020. The Divorce, Dissolution and Legal Separation Act will change the dynamics of marriage in the UK. The new divorce law has five central areas of change: With the rise of divorce, documenting high-profile cases has become commonplace. Let`s take a look at those who changed history. Current UK divorce law states that couples who wish to separate must provide one or more “facts” as evidence.
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 requires one of the following “facts” to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage: Divorce rates skyrocketed in 1969. In fact, 51,310 divorces were registered this year. It was therefore not surprising that the Divorce Reform Act of 1969 came into force in 1971. This marked a significant change in the family court system. Neither party had to prove that the fault lay with the other, and as a result, divorce rates increased dramatically. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1937 was a bill of satirist and MP A. P. Herbert.
When marriage was considered a partnership of equals, the law extended the grounds for divorce to illegal abandonment for three years or more, cruelty and incurable insanity. However, concessions were made to traditionalist constraints, such as prohibiting divorce during the first three years of marriage, with some judicial discretion. Although divorces remained expensive, their number increased significantly after the law was passed, although this was also associated with the effects of World War II. The Divorce Reform Act of 1969 marked a significant change, as people could end “incurably broken” marriages without having to prove guilt.  They could end the marriage after a two-year separation if both parties wanted a divorce, or after five years if only one party wanted a divorce.  Although the seamless divorce system was deemed unworkable in 1996, many people supported the idea. For most divorced couples, the error-based system wasn`t perfect, but it worked. While one party must blame the other and prove that their relationship is irretrievably broken, the courts are unlikely to investigate debts or affect financial matters or children, except in exceptional circumstances. Take a look at Cordell & Cordell`s interactive version of our male divorce timeline. Henry was aware that Catherine was not getting any younger and that on several occasions she had failed to produce a male heir.
Henry believed that his many miscarriages were God who had told him that she had indeed consummated her marriage to Arthur and he was punished. So Henry used this as a reason to divorce Catherine and remarry Anne. Who, of course, he would notoriously behead years later. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 allowed ordinary people to divorce. Until then, divorce was largely open only to men and had to be granted by an act of parliament that was extremely expensive and therefore open only to the rich. (Long before that, of course, Henry VIII was divorced from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and ecclesiastical courts retained the power to dissolve marriages.) This was the first divorce law of general application before the courts. The High Court in London was the only place in Britain that could grant divorce. With the increase in divorce statistics in the UK, it is estimated that around 42% of marriages today end in divorce. And while this may be a sad statistic, since the end of a marriage is an emotionally difficult time for everyone, divorce can be a positive long-term choice for people moving forward in their lives.