Legislation that would enable no fault divorces on the Isle of Man is scheduled to go before the House of Keys for its second reading on Friday (15 May 2020).

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation (Isle of Man) Bill is a private member’s bill brought forward by Garff MHK Daphne Caine.

She commented: “This is a short bill with a far reaching potential impact. If approved it will remove the need for divorcing couples to cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour in order to obtain a divorce in less than two years. The aim is to reduce the adversarial nature of divorce, which it’s believed will lessen the negative impact on the couple and any children involved. It would take out blame and increase the honesty of the divorce process.”

At present if both parties agree, divorce is permitted after a separation of two years but it is a five year wait if one party does not agree to divorce. Under the bill, a couple would be able to apply singly or jointly and obtain a final divorce or dissolution in six months, simply by confirming their marriage or civil partnership had irretrievably broken down.

The legislation is similar to a bill now being progressed through the House of Lords, promoted by the UK Government. In countries where no fault divorce is permitted, rates of fault based divorce reduce from 60% to 6%.

The Isle of Man bill follows a recommendation from a working party of family law advocates who researched the matter on the island.

And in a recent public consultation 94% of respondents supported reforming the law on these lines on the Isle of Man.

Of the 192 individuals who responded to the consultation –

• 94% supported the no fault divorce principle

• 96% agreed couples should be able to apply jointly or singly

• 62% supported a 26 week process as proposed

• 25% supported no minimum period

The full consultation results can be seen here.