If Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale were to divorce in this country, could they cite Irreconcilable Differences?
The news that celebrity couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale filed for divorce sent shockwaves through the world of social media. For many, the couple were seen as the King and Queen of the rock music world, having been married for nearly 13 years, and with both having successful music careers; Rossdale as the lead singer of the band Bush and Stefani as the lead singer of the band No Doubt.
It was reported that the parties had cited irreconcilable differences for their separation and a joint statement was released to the press that the two of them had come to the mutual decision that they would no longer be partners in marriage.
The couple split their time between their home in Los Angeles and Primrose Hill in London.
In the event Stefani and Rossdale were to divorce in this country, would they be able to rely on this no-fault ground where they don’t have to demonstrate a specific wrong or example a defined reason for their split?
The answer is no. Unlike in a number of other countries, there is no “no fault” divorce in England and Wales. The law governing divorce here was enacted back in 1973 and it provides that there is only one ground for divorce, that is, that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Further, the Court cannot hold that the marriage has irretrievably broken down unless the Court is satisfied that one of the following five facts is proved:
• unreasonable behaviour;
• desertion for two years;
• separation for two years with consent
• separation for five years
All but one (separation for two years with consent) of the five facts listed above result in a spouse having to get the blame for the breakdown of the marriage.
Proposals for reform have been made and considered many times over the last two decades as it is believed by some that a “no fault” divorce in this country should be introduced to minimise the hostility between divorcing spouses.
To date, the concept has not been introduced, however, given the extent to which society has changed over the years (and the fundamental institution of marriage questioned), it may just be a matter of time before the law surrounding divorce is changed for good.
Georgina Chase is a Family Law Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in divorce and finances upon divorce. For a free initial consultation with a Family Lawyer call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.