The Jersey Law Commission has today (26 October 2015) published a report on radical divorce law reform, introducing no-fault divorces and recommending legally binding pre- and post-nuptial agreementsThe reformation will not only bring Jersey law in line with that in Guernsey and Scotland where the waiting period before divorce proceedings is concerned, but will also update it to fit with 21st century family law as a whole – the current Matrimonial Causes (Jersey) Act 1949 has been criticised as being ‘unfit for purpose’, especially in comparison to contemporary divorce law in other locations in the UK.
The proposed changes include:
• ‘fast-track divorces’: where there is no dispute in respect of children or finances, a divorce should be able to be fast-tracked to obtain a divorce order within 3 months;
• the introduction of no-fault divorces to the island: the grounds for obtaining a divorce (or dissolution of a civil partnership) should not be based on factors such as adultery or ‘unreasonable behaviour’;
• the abolition of the 3-year waiting period prior to the initiation of divorce proceedings in Jersey;
• enabling a couple to make a ‘clean break’ after divorce proceedings have been completed;
• permitting married couples to enter into legally binding agreements (‘pre- or post-nups’) regarding what should happen if their marriage came to an end, provided certain safeguards are in place;
• the setting-up of a Resolution Service, providing alternative dispute resolution facilities, mediation, arbitration and counselling services for couples who feel the end of their marriage is imminent.
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