unhappy couple sitting on bench

No Fault divorce edging a step closer

Our family lawyer Rachel Macwilliam says that the plans which are now underway to bring in no-fault divorce will help to reduce the acrimony caused by having to blame a partner under the current system.

The current rules
The current legislation means that one partner needs to prove the other is at fault through adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or if both agree, a divorce can be granted after two years of separation. Otherwise, the couple must wait until they have lived apart for 5 years. These requirements often either create unnecessary hostility between the parties at the outset or create a situation where parties are unable to move on until the two-year or five-year mark has been passed.

The changes to the existing divorce laws would mean that all that parties need to establish is that their marriage has broken down – there does not need to be a particular ‘fact’ used to support or justify the breakdown. The introduction of a minimum time frame of 6 months between starting the divorce process and decree absolute allows couples to reflect on their decision and the changes will also mean that it will no longer be possible to contest a divorce.

There isn’t currently a set date for when the new no-fault divorce legislation will be introduced, it depends on when parliamentary time becomes available. The Ministry of Justice issued a consultation on its plans in September 2018 which closed in December 2018. In April 2019 the government published its response to the consultation and confirmed that it would go ahead with the planned changes by introducing new legislation. The same changes would be made to the law governing the dissolution of a civil partnership.

A more positive outcome
Rachel says, increasingly couples are preferring to explore mediation where possible which is something that government policy is looking to encourage. The introduction of a no-fault divorce would therefore seem to be in line with the way most couples would prefer to divorce and result in a better, less hostile experience for divorcing couples as well as for their families.

If you would like to speak to Rachel about Divorce and Separation, please contact her on 01872 241408 or email rm@penderlaw.co.uk