No-fault divorce and why we need it

A recent briefing paper produced by the House of Commons library considered the benefits and potential drawbacks of no-fault divorce, including recent attempts to introduce it to the jurisdiction.

There are many issues associated with starting a divorce by blaming another party for the breakdown of the marriage. Above all, it risks raising the temperature and does not make for a constructive start to resolving issues arising from divorce, including the difficult and sensitive issues surrounding finance and children matters. Requiring fault in a divorce not only drives up emotions, but also legal fees. A responsible solicitor can work to lower tensions and seek to agree particulars with your spouse’s representatives.

The current law is very clear. In order to prove that a marriage has broken down irretrievably, the parties to a marriage or civil partnership must reference one of five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent, or five years’ separation. This means that in order to divorce without blame, the parties must wait two years. As many divorcing couples do not have two years to spare, a great number of petitions have to proceed on the basis of unreasonable behaviour therefore implying ‘fault’.

The fact that this subject has caught the attention of the Commons library suggests that no-fault divorce may soon return to the parliamentary agenda. Resolution, the Solicitors’ Family Law Association, have campaigned hard for a change in the law for years and will continue to push for this change to English and Welsh Family Law. On this issue, Jolene Hutchison will be taking part in a Lobby Day organised by Resolution to address parliament on this very issue and other family law matters at the end of November.

If you would like to speak to our family and divorce team surrounding any of the matters highlighted in the article, or for any other issues related to Family & Divorce, please contact Jolene Hutchison, Partner and Head of Family and Divorce, on 01494 478 603, or email jfh@blasermills.co.uk