“No Fault” Divorce
July 8, 2020
The Introduction of “No Fault” divorce is nearly upon us.
After many decades and, indeed centuries, of outdated divorce law, things are now starting to change.
It looks like we are going to have “no fault” divorce in the not too distant future.
To get a divorce, you have to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
At present, the only way that you can do that is by showing unreasonable behaviour or adultery or desertion (of one party by the other for 2 years or more), or 2 years’ separation by agreement or 5 years’ separation.
This is a cumbersome and bitter way of bringing a marriage to an end. Given that most divorces are based upon either adultery or unreasonable behaviour, the law creates additional animosity between the husband and the wife.
It makes it even more difficult to resolve financial and children matters than would otherwise be the case. It causes particular issues where the husband and the wife need to maintain a positive relationship in the future for the sake of the children of the family.
The new law will bring the divorce process in England and Wales into the 21st Century.
It will do this by enabling separating spouses to jointly petition for divorce without having to blame each other for the breakdown of the marriage. It will also allow one spouse to petition for divorce alone on the fact of no fault.
The new option of no fault divorce will not prevent spouses from relying on adultery, unreasonable behaviour and the other reasons for divorce if they want to. It simply adds another option.
In addition to introducing no fault divorce, the legal terminology will be updated. The old terms of Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute will be replaced by Conditional Order and Final Order.
These changes have been overwhelmingly welcomed by Family Lawyers and Judges. It is hoped that the divorce process will become less difficult for those who have the misfortune to travel through it.
Having said all that, the other problems that beset the divorce system will continue as before.
Those problems include delays, expense, the lack of Legal Aid and the like.
Furthermore, the vagueness of the law in relation to financial disputes adds further uncertainty and problems for the parties themselves.
It is to be hoped that in due course these issues will be resolved. We will then have a system which is fit for purpose and which ranks with some of the more efficient family law systems in the world today.