InsightsInsight - Family and Divorce - POSTED: June 3 2020
No-fault divorce moves closer to reality
Changes to the current law are in sight.
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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
Earlier this year the Government announced plans to reform what is widely considered to be outdated divorce laws, in large part down to the work of Resolution.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%.
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.
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