THE biggest reform to divorce law in fifty years has been welcomed by a North East law firm.

As of April 6, it is no longer necessary to cite a reason when applying for divorce.

The five available grounds defined by the previous legislation were unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, two years' separation with the consent of both parties, and five years' separation without consent.

But now, under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, married and civil partnership couples can obtain a divorce without having to assign blame.

Applicants only need to declare that their marriage has irretrievably broken down - and they can also do so jointly with their spouse if they wish.

Joanne Major, founder of Major Family Law which is based in Ponteland, said: "This is the major change to divorce legislation in 50 years and one that has been long-awaited by family lawyers across England and Wales."

She added: "We expect divorce to become a much smoother and less emotional process for most.

"Estranged spouses will now be able to focus on practical matters like money and childcare rather than who was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage, and we expect the numbers of couples going their separate ways to jump as a result."

Under the previous process, for a blame-free divorce it had to be demonstrated that the parties have lived apart for at least two years - as long as both parties consent to the divorce - or five years if not.