No fault divorce

At the moment, the only 'ground' for divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

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We have reported a number of times on the progress and the stalling of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which is the legislation to introduce a system of no-fault divorce. At the moment, the only 'ground' for divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. To prove this, one of the five 'facts' has to be established, namely:

  • adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion
  • two years' separation with consent or
  • five years separation

Proving one of these grounds can cause acrimony and upset to a couple and any children, so many feel that divorce reform has been long overdue.  The legislation to make no fault divorce a reality, should become law soon.

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage will remain the sole ground for divorce.  However, a spouse will no longer have to provide evidence of breakdown which means that they will not have to argue that their spouse is at fault. It will no longer be necessary to wait for a period of separation before starting divorce proceedings (although the parties will still have to be married for one year before they can commence proceedings).

Many will welcome a less acrimonious divorce process – the press have recently reported that a couple who had been married for 22 years, could not settle their differences. So, after many hearings they ended up in the High Court. After they had paid out around £600,000 in legal fees, they only had about £5,000 of liquid assets each. As they Judge said: 'It is hard to express what a calamitous waste of resources this has been.'

Let's hope that the new law helps couples such as this.

To discuss this or any other family related matter, contact us.

Members: Simon Shaw, Elizabeth Rimell and Janice Leyland.
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