Alliance: NI people should be able to marry and divorce freely

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

‘No fault’ divorce will be introduced in England and Wales as soon as parliamentary time allows, Justice Secretary David Gauke has stated, meaning an extension of the grounds for divorce as well as abolishing the ability to contest a divorce.

Under current legislation married couples in Northern Ireland can divorce after one year on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown, which has to include at least one reason such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or a number of years of desertion or separation.

However, surveys have shown over a quarter of divorcing couples who asserted blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegations were not true.

So while a marriage is entered into voluntarily, it follows it should be dissolved voluntarily as well, without having to attribute blame to anyone if that is the case.

Alliance’s party council recently approved a motion supporting the reform of divorce laws to introduce the grounds of no fault.

While England and Wales will soon see exactly that happen, Northern Ireland will be left behind while the ongoing political impasse at the Assembly continues.

Stewart Dickson, Alliance MLA for East Antrim