No-fault divorce to become law

The Government has announced that no-fault divorce legislation is to be introduced.

As the law currently stands, couples seeking a divorce must prove the only ground for divorce; that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Unless the couple have been separated for at least two years, it is not possible to prove this without apportioning blame to one party on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour (even if the couple have mutually agreed to end their marriage).

Understandably, this outdated and unnecessary ‘blame game’ can add further heartache at an already difficult and distressing time.

Resolution has long campaigned for this change and the news today is recognition that the current law does not reflect what family lawyers are trying to achieve, an amicable and non-fault based split.

Stone King family lawyers are all members of Resolution who work to resolve issues in a non-confrontational way. Senior Associate Rebecca Eels said: “This is a fantastic day for family law, for too long couples have been locked in the mindset that someone must take the blame when all too often they have simply just drifted apart. This announcement is recognition that in the 21st century the law needs to reflect the reality that most just wish to divorce as amicably as possible.”

The legislation will be introduced ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’.

In other jurisdictions around the world, the concepts of no-fault and mutual divorces are commonplace and prove just how behind the UK is in this respect.

The new legislation will not amend the only ground for divorce (that the marriage has broken down irretrievably), but instead of requiring one party to ‘prove’ this with facts about the other party’s behaviour, it will instead be replaced with a requirement for the parties to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

The proposals also include the removal of the ability of one party to contest the divorce.

With the introduction of no-fault divorce it is hoped that this will encourage the couple to be less acrimonious and will have enormous benefits not only for them but also for children who may be influenced by one parent’s hostility towards the other.

No longer spending time dwelling on blame will also allow couples to focus their energies on the other issues to be addressed such as dealing with their finances or arrangements involving children, and will encourage them to consider far more amicable ways of resolving their difference such as mediation.

For more information please contact Caroline Fell

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