news

Concern over future of domestic abuse and divorce bills following suspension of parliament

12th September 2019

Concern over future of domestic abuse and divorce bills following suspension of parliament

12th September 2019

Penny Scott, who is chair of the Family Law Committee of The Law Society and a partner at Cartridges Law, has today expressed her concerns over the loss of two important bills – following the suspension of parliament.

All bills advancing through the commons were halted this week, including the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill and the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Penny, who contributed to both bills through her work with The Law Society, said the fate of the bills was now uncertain.

She added: ‘This is very concerning. These were two important bills which would bring significant changes for the better in both those areas of law and now their future is uncertain. It may be that they return in the next parliament, but there is no guarantee of that and we won’t know until the Queen’s speech of October 14.’

The Domestic Abuse Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons in July and was due for its second reading. The bill contained several key measures against domestic abuse such as:

  • the inclusion of children aged 16 and 17 in the statutory definition of domestic abuse
  • for the first time, a statutory definition of coercive control
  • the recognition of economic abuse as a form of domestic abuse
  • prohibiting the cross-examination in family courts of domestic abuse victims by their alleged abuser, and
  • the appointment of a domestic abuse commissioner.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was due to introduce new legislation to overhaul divorce law and reduce family conflict. It also included the introduction of a ‘no fault’ divorce and the creation of a joint application for divorce.

Both bills had featured extensive cross-party work to draft the legislation and followed years of campaigning from parties seeking reform. Neither bill was subject to a ‘cross-over’ motion pre-prorogation (which would have preserved them in their current state in the new session of Parliament) and will have to be started from scratch, if the government chooses to bring them back.