SFLA gains Government rethink over divorce rules

THE GOVERNMENT has agreed to increase the “cooling-off” period for divorcing couples after a request was made by the Solicitors Family Law Association.

The request, by SFLA chair Nigel Shepherd in a meeting with Jonathan Evans, junior Minister at the Lord Chancellor's Department, was for couples to be given up to two years to finalise divorce if they could not agree on arrangements within the initial 12-month cooling-off period.

The original Bill said couples who could not agree within the cooling-off period would only be given a further six months.

If they still failed to agree after the extra time the divorce proceedings would be abandoned.

Shepherd said of the change: “It is an indication of the work we are doing as an organisation.

“We still think that the court should be given the power to extend the period further and we shall continue to press for this.”

Last week, Peers were debating one of the most controversial elements of the divorce law reforms. This related to a measure which would increase the time allowed before couples can divorce.

But Lord Mackay is defending his decision to allow divorce after one year.

He said: “I am not in favour of extending the period or to shorten the period in special circumstances.

“I think that blurs the message that a clear minimum period sends.”