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.  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. Once the Divorce, Dissolution and Legal Separation Act comes into force in 2020, it will provide for no-fault divorce on its part, when an application for divorce is filed declaring that the marriage has been irretrievably broken, in violation of the aforementioned grounds. The law is expected to come into force in the fall of 2021.  The number of marriages increased at the beginning of World War II, declined steadily, and increased again at the end. However, many marriages broke up due to the war and its aftermath, resulting in a spike in divorces after World War II. 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. In 1937, the law was changed and divorce was allowed for other reasons, including drunkenness, insanity, and desertion. As with most assumptions, appearances can be deceiving. Henry`s marriage to Anne led to exactly one divorce – in 1552.
The term was not used again until 1670. While Protestant Europe began to embrace the idea that there could be legitimate reasons to end a marriage, England took a step backwards. The new church of Henry VIII. not only opposed to divorce in all circumstances, but it also far exceeded Catholic Europe in restrictions on the granting of annulments. The liberal rules of consanguinity of cousinage, for example, which allowed even distant couples to separate, have been completely abolished. Only four of the 324 complaints were filed by women. A husband had to prove adultery to obtain a divorce. On the other hand, a woman had to prove adultery and another particularly aggravating circumstance to have the same reasons. Over the years, women have learned that brutality, rape, desertion and financial harassment don`t count. Indeed, Parliament seemed difficult to say what had happened until Jane Addison presented her case in 1801. She won on the basis of Mr.
Addison`s adultery and incest with her sister at the marital home. 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 key areas for change: The Divorce Reform Act of 1969 marked a significant change, as people could end “irretrievably 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.  These old calendars, “Index of Divorce or Matrimonial Cases”, in 42 volumes, sorted by date by applicant, retain some value since they last until 1958 and contain the only official references after 1937 to rejected applications for which the files were destroyed. They are available on microfilm FHL 2358042-57, but the series is far from satisfactory. In April 2022, the UK`s divorce law will undergo its most significant reforms in almost 50 years with the introduction of the No-fault Divorce Act. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 is the biggest change in UK divorce law since 1973. Supporters of the new law believe that no-fault divorce on their part will reduce conflicts during separations. This article has only touched on some of the many aspects of separation and divorce.
Two books by Lawrence Stone: Road to Divorce: England, 1530-1987 (Oxford University Press, 1990) [FHL book 942 V2] and Broken Lives: Separation and Divorce in England, 1660-1857 (1994) [not in FHL] provide fascinating ideas. 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.  Following the case, a private member`s bill was introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Butler-Sloss to reconsider the divorce law. Despite support for reforms, the bill did not succeed. But in September 2018, the government launched a consultation to consider abolishing the five-fact system based on error. The following year, the government published the responses to the consultation and announced that it would amend the law.
Given that Fielding`s heinous violence on Barbara alone would not have been enough to secure a divorce, the question arises as to whether there has ever been a case so extreme that the courts intervened. The answer is only once, but not in the way traditionally associated with divorce. In April 1631, a grand jury indicted the Earl of Castlehaven for rape and sodomy. The list of his alleged crimes included hiring his male lovers as his servants and taking full control of the house, marrying his eldest daughter to one of his lovers/servants, cooperating to seduce his teenage daughter-in-law, and finally holding his wife while she was raped by one of his servants. Castlehaven`s main defence was that a woman`s body belonged to her husband in order to dispose of it as he saw fit. Under English law, prosecutors could not disagree with the first part of his testimony, but rejected the logical conclusion of the testimony. The count was sentenced to death. The introduction of the Children Act 1989 made it clear to the United Kingdom Family Courts that it was of the utmost importance to determine what was in the best interests of the child during divorce proceedings. But while the legislation is gender-neutral, many courts were not. In most cases, the family courts have decided to award custody to the mother. A 1923 bill for private legislators made it easier for women to file for divorce for adultery, but this had not yet been proven. Divorce in England and Wales is only possible for marriages of more than one year and if the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Although it is possible to defend a divorce, the vast majority proceed defenseless. A divorce decree is first issued “nisi”, that is, (unless the reason is proved later) before it becomes “absolute”. The agreements made in 1858, which required all costly procedures to take place in London, were a compromise with the Church of England, and it was clear that no clergyman in that Church or the Church of Wales could be compelled to marry a divorced person whose ex-spouse was still alive, although he had to allow his church to be used for that purpose. If Helen`s face would have launched a thousand ships, Anne closed a thousand churches. But their supremacy over Henry did not survive the stillbirth of a male heir.