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Family Matters No. 42 - September 1995

Grounds for divorce in Australia and England

Margaret Harrison

Abstract

The author examines proposed changes to English divorce law set out in the English Divorce Bill. These changes would essentially make English law more like Australian law by leaving irretrievable breakdown as the sole basis for divorce. The fault bases for establishing irretrievable breakdown would also be removed by the changes. The author describes the current situation in Australia and Britain. She concludes that in the context of Australian family law, the English proposals appear unnecessarily bureaucratic, cumbersome and somewhat confused. She welcomes the removal of mixed fault, no fault grounds and the adoption of irretrievable breakdown. The provision of information sessions will also be of assistance, but suggests the consolidation of divorce and ancillary matters such as arrangements regarding children and the allocation of property has the potential to increase litigation.

The author examines proposed changes to English divorce law set out in the English Divorce Bill. These changes would essentially make English law more like Australian law by leaving irretrievable breakdown as the sole basis for divorce. The fault bases for establishing irretrievable breakdown would also be removed by the changes. The author describes the current situation in Australia and Britain. She concludes that in the context of Australian family law, the English proposals appear unnecessarily bureaucratic, cumbersome and somewhat confused. She welcomes the removal of mixed fault, no fault grounds and the adoption of irretrievable breakdown. The provision of information sessions will also be of assistance, but suggests the consolidation of divorce and ancillary matters such as arrangements regarding children and the allocation of property has the potential to increase litigation.

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