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Good Divorce Week Campaigns For No Fault Divorce

Good Divorce Week is an awareness raising campaign from Resolution, a 6,500 strong organisation of family lawyers and other professionals in who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.

This year Good Divorce Week is running from 28 November to 2 December and will feature a lobby day in Parliament where Resolution members will be campaigning for improved rights for cohabiting couples and for ‘no fault’ divorces.

The only ground for a divorce in England and Wales is ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’. This needs to be proved by one of five facts, which are as follows:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Two years separation with consent
  4. Desertion
  5. Five years separation

Only two of these facts are considered ‘no fault’; two years separation with consent or five years separation.

Making a separated couple wait for two years to pursue a fault-less divorce is unfair in many circumstances. Quite often there are financial matters to be resolved that simply cannot wait for this amount of time, leading to petitions being issued earlier on fault based facts, such as unreasonable behaviour.

Research published by YouGov in 2015 found that 52 per cent of divorce petitions were fault based with 27 per cent of divorcing couples admitting the allegation of fault wasn’t necessarily true, but simply the easier option.

Thus far, all attempts to introduce a no fault divorce have simply failed to gather momentum but senior legal professionals and Resolution, have been calling for the introduction of the no fault divorce.

The basis for opposing a no fault divorce seems to be a moral one and lies in the fact that a no fault divorce may undermine the institution of marriage. Making it ‘easier’ to divorce if a relationship is faltering is thought to provide a quick fix to ending a marriage rather than encouraging a couple to make try and make it work.

Counter arguments for this are that if a person is adamant that they wish to pursue a divorce before the parties have been separated for more than two years, it is easy to come up with feeble allegations of misconduct.

Contested divorces are all but unheard of nowadays and the idea that a judge is forced to sit and consider wishy-washy allegations of unreasonable behaviour, simply because the law does not allow for a no fault divorce before a period of two years has passed, seems rather out dated. Allowing for the option of a no-fault divorce simply removes the need for an unnecessary process that makes life decidedly more difficult for all involved.

Resolution’s manifesto for family law was launched in February 2015. Amongst other things, the Resolution Manifesto calls for the removal of blame from the divorce process which creates conflict and makes reaching a mutually acceptable agreement much more difficult. It stresses that removing blame will not make divorce itself easier but that it will make it easier for people to manage their separation with as little conflict as possible.

It is believed that no fault divorce will increase the chances of success for dispute resolution out of court, thereby reducing the burden on the already over-worked court system. The position of Resolution is ultimately that a civilised society deserves a more civilised divorce process.

Whilst it has not been suggested that the Government are looking into divorce reform, the House of Commons Library has recently published a briefing paper considering the current basis for divorce and arguments for and against the introduction of no fault divorce.

If you require any advice in relation to divorce or finances on separation, please call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0808 916 9055 or contact us online and we’ll be  happy to help you.

Kelly Willmott is a family law solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Milton Keynes.

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