‘No fault’ divorce proceedings backed by senators
Legislation designed to end “unhelpful blaming and shaming” in divorce cases was backed by the Senate today.
The Upper House heard the Matrimonial Causes (Faultless Divorce) Amendment Act was the first of several changes designed to modernise matrimonial law and streamline the divorce process.
The bill, tabled by Ernest Peets, the Government Senate Leader and the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, gained full support in the Senate.
The Act removes the requirement for couples to prove fault in divorce cases, and gives both sides the option to apply for divorce and give a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
Dr Peets said he was aware that some might fear the legislation would “undermine the institution of marriage”, but that it ought to be a personal matter and the legislation would benefit families and children.
He said “archaic” language in the original legislation had been simplified and that the streamlined process would reduce legal costs.
Michelle Simmons, the Senate vice-president, said a divorce could be almost as distressing as a bereavement.
She added: “I support the Bill as it is helping to give families the chance to get on with their lives. Although they will be apart, there is no need for them to have an acrimonious end to the relationship.
“It’s important that when parents are raising their children together, even though they are not in the same household, at least there can be a coming together in the best interests of the children.”
John Wight, an independent, said he welcomed the Bill but that he would have liked more detail on improvements, including where there were disputes over child maintenance.
But he added: “In terms of its direction, you have my full support”.
Ben Smith, the Opposition Senate leader, added: “We want to continue to build families and protect our children as much as we can. If we can minimise conflict … the Opposition is in support of this bill.”