David Gauke has said the new divorce laws are “long overdue” as the justice secretary announced they were taking out “an element that drives up animosity”.
Under new laws, divorcing couples will no longer have to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage in court.
Currently in England and Wales, unless someone can prove there was adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain a divorce without their spouse's agreement is to live apart for five years.
However under the new proposals, spouses will be able to submit a "statement of irretrievable breakdown" to apply for divorce under the new laws – removing the requirement for them to submit “evidence of wrongdoing”.
Mr Gauke told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “This is long overdue. I think it is necessary for us to bring our divorce laws up to date.
“We have taken out an element that seems to drive up animosity.
“It is particularly relevant for divorcing couples with children. The relationship between the parents is still going to be important and anything we can do to make that relationship as positive as it can be – I think we should do that.”
Mr Gauke dismissed criticism that the new laws were “divorce on demand”.
Under new proposals, the minimum time frame of six months from petition to a divorce being finalised will be introduced.
He said: “We are also giving people the opportunity to reflect, reconsider and potentially change their mind because deciding to proceed with a divorce is a huge decision to be made. It should not be made lightly.”
The justice secretary said that the new laws do not “solve all the problems” but that he hopes it will reduce some “animosity” in the process.
He said: “This does not solve all the problems and there will be disputes over money and so on but there is no excuse for having a system that makes the process of getting a divorce more difficult than it needs to be.”