Unhappy couple arguing

Welcome News For Family Law In Queen’s Speech

Monday 14th October marked the opening of Parliament and the first Queen’s speech of Boris Johnson’s premiership.  Promising to impose tougher sentences and ensuring the continuation of the Domestic Abuse Bill, there was a focus on restoring confidence in the judicial system, alongside the topic of conversation top of the headlines since 2016.

Many have viewed the speech as a ‘Tory pre-election broadcast’ however, there were those that watched in eagerness regarding key piece of legislation.  The speech committed the reintroduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill, bringing a clear definition that abuse includes economic, coercive and emotional abuse, as well as physical.  This will be welcome news for many, with charity Women’s Aid calling it a ‘crucial step forward’ in their SOS Campaign which calls on the Government to protect services for women and children escaping domestic abuse.

There was also the promise for the return of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, a bill that had originally been axed when Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament in September.

Jo Edwards, Head of Family at Forsters LLP and former Chair of Resolution, comments:

“Advocates of no fault divorce have had a roller coaster ride in recent months, with news of the introduction of a Bill in June and its quick passage through the early stages; and then with the uncertainty which followed prorogation.  Today’s reference to it in the Queen’s Speech will therefore likely be met with cautious optimism – a desire for the Bill to be reintroduced as soon as possible and quickly progressed, especially in view of the ongoing political uncertainty and the possibility of a general election before the year is out.  That said, it was evident from the second reading debate in June that the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Bill is one of those rare things in the current climate, a bill that has almost universal support across the Commons.  The impact of new legislation on the 100,000 or so couples who divorce in England and Wales each year, and their children, will be profound; it is to be hoped that policy makers now grasp the nettle and get this much-needed law over the line.”

Although the mention of the Divorce Bill was only short, it is clear that along with the Domestic Abuse Bill, there will now be further steps forward in family law that has the potential to help thousands of people in the UK.

Commenting on of the return of the Domestic Abuse Bill and Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, President of the Law Society Simon Davis said:

“Together the bills have the potential to change millions of lives across England and Wales and we look forward to working with the government on these vital pieces of legislation. “We welcome the news that these important issues will be dealt with in the next parliamentary session.”

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