The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Divorce Law: Compulsory Cooling Off Periods?

This week, a think-tank - the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) - published a report proposing a compulsory three-month "cooling off" period before a spouse can initiate formal divorce proceedings.  The report also advocates mandatory "information meetings" to compel couples to "reflect on their marriage," "explore the possibility of reconciliation," and receive counselling on "the implications of divorce."

The Telegraph reported that would endorse the proposals, drawn up by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, way back in November 2008.  Thus, with the Conservatives set for a landslide victory in next year's , many of the ideas enunciated in "Every Family Matters" could soon become law. 

Mr. Duncan Smith's report is the second in a series of two:  the first, "Breakdown Britain," published in 2006, drew comparisons to 's disastrous "Back to Basics" campaign.  The new installment has received a fair amount of criticism too.  One family law expert has denounced the proposals on  as "deeply patronising" and "completely out of touch with reality."  According to Mr. Duncan Smith, however, "the proposals will give saveable marriages time to seek help and prevent an escalation of conflict."

Current rules on divorce vary depending on which part of the UK you live in:  for example, in Northern Ireland, a spouse may not initiate divorce proceedings within the first two years of marriage; England and Wales has a one-year waiting period; and Scotland has no time limit at all.  But, regardless of when or where a spouse decides to call time on his/her marriage, there is no such thing as a "." 

You can obtain further information about the divorce process and legal requirements at (England and Wales), (Northern Ireland), or (Scotland).  Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in .  You can be in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.