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Reformed divorce, annulment and judicial separation legislation published

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Tuesday 07 June 2022

The Policy & Resources Committee has published new legislation which, once approved, will bring into effect the reforms to the divorce, annulment and judicial separation proceedings agreed by the States of Deliberation in 2020.

The reforms led by the Policy & Resources Committee will see the Matrimonial Causes Reform Law (Guernsey), 1939, be repealed and replaced. The completion of the drafting of the necessary Bailiwick-wide legislation to deliver the reforms was prioritised by the States of Guernsey as part of the Government Work Plan in 2021.

The reforms seek to modernise, simplify and make the current legislation more inclusive and reflective of a modern society. The legislation will enable the introduction of no-fault divorce, remove the ability to contest a divorce and modernise the grounds for annulment, amongst others changes.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache, President of the Policy & Resources Committee, said:

'The progression of these reforms to our divorce, annulment and separation legislation should reduce conflict and ensure our legislation in this important area of family law are modern, inclusive and better supports couples who have made the decision to end their marriages.

'We know it is never an easy situation for either party to the marriage when matters cannot be resolved quickly and simply, and while it is not possible to remove the emotional difficulties experienced through a separation, it is possible to reduce the stressfulness of the process in most cases. The introduction of no-fault divorce has long been recognised as a means to do that and, accompanied by the other reforms under this new legislation, should improve the whole process.'

Once agreed by the States of Deliberation the legislation will require Royal Assent.

It is expected that the legislation will commence in early 2023.

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