The end of the ‘blame game’

The end of the ‘blame game’

Today the Justice Secretary announced a new law that means divorcing couples will no longer have to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage.

In the UK there is only one ground for divorce that is, that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to be eligible to petition for a divorce, you need to have been married for more than a year. To support your petition and prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, you must rely upon one of five ‘facts’ prescribed by the Court: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation (if the other spouse consents to the divorce), or five years’ separation (if the other spouse disagrees). With three of the facts requiring periods of separation of two years or more, if you wish to divorce before a two year period has expired, you must rely on adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

This essentially means that one party must place the blame for the breakdown of the marriage on the other party. This often increases conflict in an already difficult situation and can set the tone for the divorce and financial proceedings, which can become bitter and protracted as a result. This can, and often does, damage the relationship of the parties going forward, making it harder for them to work together as parents which can have a negative impact on children in the family. Evidence shows that children are damaged by conflict between their parents, whether they are together or separated. Consequently, the current divorce law has been an area of concern for family practitioners and parents for some time now.

Resolution (an organisation of over 5,000 lawyers and family justice professionals, committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes) have been actively leading a campaign to change this outdated legislation and  make the divorce process less acrimonious and more reflective of the way people live and view divorce today.  

The new law will replace the requirement to use one of the five ‘facts’ to evidence the breakdown of the marriage. Under the new law parties will be required to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. There will also be the option for a joint application for divorce, however, the option for a sole application will also be retained. The ability to contest a divorce will also be removed.

It is hoped that the new law will enable more couples to work together amicably and constructively to achieve a fair outcome and reduce distress for themselves and their children.

All of our family lawyers are committed members of Resolution and can work with you to achieve a fair outcome following the breakdown of your marriage.

If you would like any further information on the contents of this article or divorce in general please contact, Sarah Scriven on 01494 478684 or at