Could divorce about to be getting a whole lot easier and cheaper? The answer is quit possibly but only if the divorcing couple both mutually accept the break-up of the marriage.
Parliament is debating a new law, the Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2023, that if passed will make divorce easier and less expensive if both partners consent to the annulment of the marriage.
The new Bill would amend provisions of the Marriage Act, 2014, and if passed the mark a departure from the existing divorce procedure that is ‘fault-based’ on the grounds of abuse or infidelity, for example.
Is divorce about to become easier? Suna West MP Peter Masara introduces Bill
The proposed law has been introduced by Suna West MP Peter Masara and is about to have its first reading.
Under the new proposed law, couples wishing to separate will only need to file a joint petition and approach the court for a decree of divorce by mutual consent.
The aim of the new Bill is to do away with the difficulties many couples face in marriages that are breaking down and the seemingly endless divorce proceedings that can take years.
For the proposed quicker divorce to take place, consent for the separation must be approved by both partners who must not have been coerced into the move and the marriage must have been for at least a year.
Consent must be voluntary
To make sure the consent to the dissolution of the marriage is entirely voluntary the couples must jointly present the petition in court and be present in person at the hearing.
If the court is satisfied that the statements from the couple supporting the petition are true the decree of divorce can become effective immediately.
If the alleged consent between the couple is in fact coerced, the Bill allows for nullification of the decree and the innocent party is entitled to damages.
The Bill reads: “The Bill also ensures consent to divorce by mutual consent is rightly obtained without coercion, fraud or undue influence and provides recourse where this does not happen.”