Family law

What are the benefits of no-fault divorce?

Divorce is a stressful period for any couple and those wishing to file for divorce currently have to prove their marriage has irretrievably broken down. Since the case of Tini Owens, Parliament is now looking to introduce no-fault divorce.

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What is no-fault divorce?

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What is no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce is a divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage does not require a showing of fault, blame or wrong-doing by either party.

The current divorce law requires the petitioner for the divorce to give one of five reasons for the breakdown of the marriage. Some of these reasons lay fault with the other party. Therefore, we currently do not have a system of "no fault" divorce.

The current rules fuel conflict by forcing one side to blame the other if they do not want to wait for years before obtaining a divorce. New legislation which is being considered in the current climate, would change that.

Also contributing to public opinion and debate is the Tini Owens case. In the wake of the case, an announcement of a potential change in law was made on 9 April 2019.

Currently, couples have to prove that their marriage has 'irretrievably broken down' before being allowed to divorce and must give evidence of one or more of five facts:

  • adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion
  • two years' separation with consent to divorce
  • five years' separation.

What does the new no-fault divorce law propose?

The law will introduce some fundamental improvements, including:

  • The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage will be the sole ground for a divorce
  • Complex legal jargon will be not be used within the divorce process so that it is accessible and easy to understand for couples
  • The need for facts and evidence will be replaced with a statement of irretrievable breakdown
  • The opportunity to contest the divorce will be removed but there would still be some legal grounds for challenging the divorce if needed
  • There will be a choice of a joint application for divorce as well as the option for one party to initiate the process
  • A minimum timeframe of 6 months will be introduced from the initial petition stage to final divorce. This means couples will have a period of reflection if they wish to ensure they are making the right decision as well as plenty of time to put plans into place

When will it be officially introduced?

There is no definite date yet. However, when the Government published its response back in April, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that legislation would be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows. It's possible that Brexit may slow down the passing of the Bill in Parliament and any new government's priorities may also change.

What benefits will the new law bring?

There are many advantages to a no-fault divorce, such as:

  • Couples will not be pitted against each other in a lengthy, stressful divorce battle
  • There's more chance of the divorce ending amicably if it's what both parties want
  • There'll be less emotional damage inflicted on children and less stress on the family in general
  • It'll provide both parties with more time to deal with financial issues.

If you're going through a difficult time and need expert advice you can trust, we can help. Contact our specialist family lawyers on 0161 830 9632 or request a callback online.

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