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Is it time for the no-fault divorce?

An important new study is to take place, exploring how the law deals with divorce and civil partnership dissolution.

It is hoped that the results of the research will help advise the government on whether, and how, current divorce law in England & Wales could be reformed.

At present, the existing system allows a judge to grant a divorce if a person can prove that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. However to do this, one of five reasons must be given, and accepted by the court. These reasons are:

  1. adultery
  2. unreasonable behaviour
  3. desertion after two years
  4. two years’ separation with the consent of both parties, or
  5. five years’ separation without mutual consent.

While the Family Law Act 1996 made an attempt to introduce the ‘no-fault’ divorce in England and Wales, this was subsequently scrapped due to opposition to the idea. Today, therefore, with the exception of two years’ separation with the consent of both parties, all the possible reasons for divorce include an element of fault.

However, without the addition of ‘no-fault’, divorces can become complicated, as, understandably many people are reluctant to accept the blame for the dissolution of their marriage or civil partnership. This can lead to situations where couples, desperate to divorce, find themselves in a stalemate, having to wait two years to legally separate and move on with the next chapter of their lives.

Resolution, an organisation committed to improvements to the family justice system is largely supportive of the introduction of the no-fault divorce and has invited its members to take part in the study.

Do we need the no-fault divorce?

Certainly, the need to apportion blame often leads to the inflammation of hostilities and can be counter-productive; creating grievances where they didn’t previously exist. The addition of the no-fault divorce must, therefore, be a step in the right direction towards a more constructive, non-confrontational approach to divorce and legal separation.

The analysis, which is set to take place over two years, is being conducted by the University of Exeter and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The research will include the views of divorce lawyers and those going through the divorce process. As well as looking at the current requirement to allocate blame, the study will also examine whether divorce law in England and Wales should be simplified and made less costly.

Helping to make your divorce process as painless as possible. At Linder Myers, we have created a handy guide with some essential information and advice on the divorce process, and the necessary considerations, so you know what to expect when separating from your partner.

With information on the various options available to you, including mediation, collaborative divorce and litigation, we’ll help you weigh up the best option for you, so you can look forward to the future with confidence.

Download the complete legal guide to divorce and separation Find out more about our Family department
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