Has no-fault divorce finally arrived?
After many years of campaigning, the news that the government had confirmed it would introduce new legislation allowing for a no-fault divorce was welcomed by the profession in April.
Under the current legislation, a married couple must prove that their marriage has broken down irretrievably by using one of the five facts. If they have not been separated for two years or more, to be able to prove irretrievable breakdown and enable them to get divorced, one of them must be at fault as the party issuing divorce must rely on the others adultery or behaviour. This requires the party issuing the divorce to cite specific reasons as to why the marriage has broken down. In what is already an extremely emotional and stressful time, having to go through this process often gives rise to conflict between the parties, making the situation more difficult and impacting upon all concerned including any children.
Under the new legislation, the five facts will be removed. Only one of the parties will need to notify the court that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. This means that they will not need to rely on the others behaviour or adultery and neither party will need to be at fault. This will remove the need for blame and should make the process much less stressful, thus reducing conflict and the impact on the parties and any children. It is hoped that this will allow the parties to focus on important issues such as children and finances.
The legislation also plans to introduce a minimum time-frame of 6 months from the issuing of the divorce to the making of the Decree Absolute which is the order bringing the marriage to an end.
What we say…
Emma Harbron, Head of Family Law at Coles Solicitors says: “Whilst current divorce law remains unchanged at this time, the proposed reforms should make the divorce process less costly and acrimonious, reducing the impact on all concerned including any children of the family. It won’t be necessary to blame one party to the marriage which will immediately reduce any conflict making what can be an extremely difficult and emotional time less stressful. The reforms are long overdue and, given the benefits they will bring, a welcomed change. Watch this space!”
For specialist advice consult one of our family solicitors to guide you through the process. Even if you decide to conduct the proceedings yourself, perhaps using the new online divorce system, that initial advice will help you progress matters more smoothly.
You can find more information about our divorce services here.