Proposed Manx law changes would 'take the sting out of divorce'

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The proposals would allow couples to divorce in six months without apportioning blame

Plans to update Manx divorce law could make it "more honest", an MHK has said.

Proposals to change the criteria for no-fault divorces would mean couples could finalise the process in six months, rather than two or five years.

Launching a consultation on the changes, Daphne Caine MHK said they would "take the sting out of divorce".

The proposals, which will also apply to civil partnerships, would mean couples could apply individually or jointly for a blameless divorce.

Under the current law, which is over half a century old, the process can only be finalised in less than two years if adultery or unreasonable behaviour is cited as a reason for the breakdown of a marriage.

It also states a separation must last five years if one half of the couple objects to the divorce.

Mrs Caine said the changes would be "more pragmatic, honest and simple" and "take the sting out of divorce".

"Mainly it's aimed at reducing conflict and the emotional and negative impact that can have on any children involved, but also on the couple themselves."

Family law specialist Hazel Smith said apportioning blame "fans the flames of conflict" and can make things "more bitter".

She said the proposed legislation was "a real opportunity to minimise the consequences of relationship breakdown for all".

A total of 204 Manx couples divorced in 2018, 56% of which were "fault-based", a figure similar to that in England and Wales.

Following the eight-week consultation, Mrs Caine said she would work towards bringing forward the changes as part of a private member's bill in 2020.

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