The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is a significant piece of legislation relating to Family Law that reformed the law governing divorce and separation in England and Wales. This act came into effect on 1st January 1974 and replaced the previous law, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1965.
The purpose of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 was to modernize and simplify divorce law, to make it more equitable and to eliminate some of the outdated and sexist aspects of the previous legislation. The act also sought to make it easier for couples to divorce, while at the same time recognizing the importance of the institution of marriage.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, there is only one ground for divorce, which is irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This can be proven through one of five facts:
Desertion for two years or more
Separation for two years or more with consent
Separation for five years or more without consent
This system of “no-fault divorce” replaced the old system, which required one spouse to prove that the other was at fault, such as through adultery, desertion, or cruelty.
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 also introduced new provisions for financial settlements following divorce. This includes the principle of “fairness,” which requires the court to consider all the circumstances of the case and ensure that the settlement is fair to both parties.
One of the most significant changes introduced by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 was the creation of the Family Division of the High Court, which deals with family law matters such as divorce, custody, and adoption. This division replaced the old divorce courts, which were seen as outdated and inadequate for the modern era.
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 also recognized the equal status of both spouses in marriage, which was a significant change from the previous law that viewed the husband as the dominant partner. The act abolished the concept of “matrimonial offenses” and recognized that both spouses could be guilty of behavior that could lead to the breakdown of the marriage.
The act also introduced new provisions for custody and access to children following divorce. These provisions require the court to consider the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody and access.
Overall, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 was a significant step forward in modernizing and simplifying divorce law in England and Wales. It eliminated many of the outdated and sexist aspects of the previous legislation and recognized the equal status of both spouses in marriage. The act also introduced new provisions for financial settlements, custody, and access to children, which have helped to ensure that divorce proceedings are fair and equitable for all parties involved.
Read our review of Gavin Howe Barrister
- What is Section 35 ABCP Act 2014 ?Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 grants police officers the power to direct a person… Read more: What is Section 35 ABCP Act 2014 ?
- Bar Standards Board Justice ?The Bar Standards Board published disciplinary findings against barrister Mr Thomas David Davidson on the 21st November 2023. Thomas Davidson,… Read more: Bar Standards Board Justice ?
- Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman (JACO)The Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman (JACO) is a UK government organisation that provides an independent review of complaints about… Read more: Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman (JACO)
- What is a Lucas Direction ?A Lucas Direction, stemming from the case of R v Lucas (Ruth)  EWCA Crim J0519-8, is a legal principle… Read more: What is a Lucas Direction ?