Family Law Reforms Fall Due to Upcoming General Election
Due to the imminent General Election, two key pieces of family legislation will now definitely not progress within the current Parliament, which is expected to dissolve on Wednesday. The Domestic Abuse Bill, along with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill are both at a stand-still with their future uncertain.
The Domestic Abuse Bill has been hailed by domestic violence awareness groups for its proposals to prevent victims of being cross-examined by alleged abusers when giving evidence in the family courts. Today’s confirmation that the election will prevent any chance of the bill achieving Royal Assent has been met with disappointment.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill includes proposals for significant reform of the law surrounding divorce within the UK. This includes, including provisions for ‘no-fault’ divorce which would allow couples to divorce without apportioning blame for the breakdown of the marriage to one party. It would also materially change the manner that spousal maintenance is paid.
Even if the bills are brought back onto the agenda in the future, there will at the very least be substantial delay before they reappear before the relevant committee. It is not known at this stage which party, or indeed parties in the case of a coalition, will be in Government following the election or where the bills will sit within their legislative agenda.
As reported in the Law Gazette, the Domestic Violence and Abuse bill was being considered by a public bill committee, which was due to report to the House of Commons by 21 November. However, Parliament’s website states that ‘due to the imminent dissolution of this parliament and the forthcoming general election, the bill will not progress any further and the public bill committee will no longer meet’.