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Time for no fault divorces? Family Solicitor, Vikram Kumar discusses

It has been reported that Mr Nicholas Wall, President of the High Court Family Division has stated that it may be time for parties to be able to divorce each other without blame being apportioned to a party. This is referred to as a “no fault divorce”.As the law currently stands there is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. A party petitioning for divorce can rely on one of five facts in support of the ground and these are:• Unreasonable behaviour
• Adultery
• Two years separation and consent
• Five years separation
• DesertionTherefore where parties have not been separated for at least two years, the filing of a petition on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour means that the petitioner has to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down which involves blaming the other party (known as the respondent) by way of particulars regarding their behaviour or an allegation of adultery. This can often lead to further animosity where the respondent disagrees with the allegations. The reasoning behind a no fault divorce would be that neither party is viewed as more culpable than the other.The idea of a no fault divorce was considered initially in 1996 prior to the introduction of the Family Law Act 1996, with Mr Wall being part of the advisory group at that time. The idea was scrapped by the Labour Government as some considered its introduction would allow couples to break up too easily.Mr Wall indicated that he could now no longer see any good arguments against no fault divorces as the current divorce process is more administrative than judicial and that it is now no longer important for people to be considered the innocent party in divorce proceedings.As with any proposals this is likely to have its support and opposition, however the Ministry of Justice have stated that there are currently no plans to change the grounds for divorce or the reasons used in support.By Vikram Kumar

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