‘It’s all your fault’ – time for change in divorce proceedings?
Richard Bacon MP’s ‘No Fault’ Divorce Bill is to receive its second reading on 22nd January 2016.
Currently there is only one ground couples can rely on to obtain a divorce; that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To evidence the breakdown couples can rely on one of five facts – adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation, or separation with consent. Until couples have been separated for two years, someone has to take the blame. In our experience, when many separating couples, and particularly those with children, try to achieve an amicable separation, surely it is time for a change in the law?
Research carried out by YouGov in June 2015 found that 52% of divorce petitions were fault-based, alleging either adultery or unreasonable behaviour. YouGov found that 27% of divorcing couples that relied on a fault-based fact admitted the allegation of fault was untrue, but was the easiest option. Those supporting the ‘no fault’ fact suggest relying on a fault-based fact can result in a negative tone being set for financial and children matters.
The Bill introduces the idea of allowing couples to rely on a sixth fact of ‘no fault’ for the break down of the marriage. If the Bill is made law, couples will be granted a divorce once “each party has separately made a declaration that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down” without the need to explain how.
The sixth fact is welcomed by Resolution and urges MP’s to introduce the long-awaited principle of no fault divorce if they are serious about reducing family conflict and the on-going impact of divorce. Resolution Chair, Jo Edwards says:
‘Removing the blame from divorce, as proposed in Richard Bacon’s bill, would help couples who both wish to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives without the need for accusatory mud-slinging. This out-dated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.’