• An end to the blame-game of divorce could be in sight, as no-fault divorce moves closer to reality.

    Since the current divorce law came into force in England and Wales 50 years ago, couples can only divorce following a wait of two years’ separation and then only by agreement or being forced to blame the other for the marriage breakdown, citing adultery or a string of examples of unreasonable behaviour. The only other alternatives are having to wait for five years of being separated or relying on desertion being the cause of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

    Divorce is a difficult thing to have to go through no matter what the circumstances. The need in this day and age to apportion blame on the other party as the first thing in divorce proceedings often causes unnecessary distress to couples. This year marks 30 years since Resolution – a community of family justice professionals – began campaigning for no-fault divorce. Brachers Family team are all members of Resolution and actively support the campaign for no-fault divorce.

    Divorce reform – provisions for no-fault divorce

    In 2020 the Government announced plans to reform what is widely considered to be outdated divorce laws, in large part down to the work of Resolution. This was a much-welcomed announcement. Not only are the current divorce requirements difficult for the couple involved but they make it harder for family justice professionals to help the couple resolve issues in a constructive and non-acrimonious way.

    Changes to the current law would allow couples to go through the divorce process without having to apportion blame, and without having to wait at least two years before they can divorce. In 2015, 60% of divorces in England and Wales were granted based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Interestingly, in Scotland where divorce law is different, this was only 6%.

    On the 25 June 2020 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received Royal Assent. The Act will introduce a truly no fault based divorce process. While it was hoped it would be introduced by autumn 2021 the Government has now recently committed to having the new process in place by the 6 April 2022. The new divorce process will work hand in hand with the online divorce portal to make the process of divorce itself simpler and it is very much hoped less acrimonious and distressing for those going through the process.

    In a recent survey, 90% of family law professionals felt that the current law makes it harder for them to reduce conflict and confrontation between clients and their ex-partners. On top of that, 80% of Resolution members believe the introduction of no-fault divorce would make it more likely for separated couples to reach an agreement both in relation to divorce and financial matters out of court and by mutual agreement, something which is now the preferred option.

    The news that a change is in sight is a long time coming. In May 2018, Resolution campaigners went to Parliament to call for a change in the law on the same day that the Supreme Court heard the landmark Owens v Owens case, which paved the way for this recent reform.

    Further information and support

    Find out more about how you can support the campaign for no-fault divorce. For help with any questions about divorce, please contact Brachers Family team or get started with our simple online tool to receive tailored information about the issues you need to consider.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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    Take a look at our Family and Divorce page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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