Is there such a thing as a “good” divorce?

The title seems to be a misnomer in itself. How can a divorce be good when by its very nature it involves the breakdown of a relationship? The question is - Is it possible to make what is unquestionably one of the most stressful and emotionally challenging moments in your life less combative?

At the moment, as things stand in England & Wales, the answer to that question is no.

Following a Statute that was enacted some 45 years ago, in order to obtain a divorce, you are required to show that either your partner committed adultery or that they behaved in such a way that you could not reasonably be expected to live with them. The alternative is to wait for two years and, as long as your partner agrees, apply for a divorce then. If they do not agree, then you have to wait five years. Therefore this puts the onus on the Petitioner to apportion blame on their partner in order to get a divorce; rather rubbing salt into the wound. However there are countries where there is a no-fault divorce. For example, Scotland where a spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse.

A consultation has been ordered into whether such a system should be adopted by the Courts in England & Wales. Time will tell whether or not this will have an attraction, but given the publicity surrounding the recent Owens v Owens case, it is hoped that the argument for reform is strong. In the meantime, couples divorcing under the current system are encouraged to follow the Family Law Protocol which recommends that before any Divorce Petition is issued, the parties, via their solicitors, attempt to agree the facts set out in the Divorce Petition. It is hoped that where it is appropriate by following this Protocol it will reduce the animosity in an already acrimonious situation.

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms

Investors in People logo

UK Chambers logo

Best Companies - One to watch logo