No Fault Divorce to Be Introduced

By Paul Richardson

Following many campaigns from Resolution, Judges and family lawyers alike over a number of years it is now looking increasingly likely that no fault divorce will be implemented.

Justice Secretary, David Gauke, confirmed recently that he will be taking steps to introduce legislation for no fault divorce.

The reason this topic has been debated upon and called for over such a long period of time is that presently, unless the parties have been separated for a period of two years or more,a divorce can only proceed on either adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Both of these are fault based grounds meaning that one party would have to accept the blame for the marriage coming to an end. This can often lead to unnecessary conflict and acrimony which can then lead to the other issues that may need to be resolved, such as children and financial matters, becoming more contested.

The introduction of no-fault divorce would remove the need for one party to have to accept the blame for the marriage coming to an end. Presently, even if the parties have been separated for two years it still requires the consent of the other spouse. In the absence of consent to two years separation, or one party evidencing fault of the other, separating couples would have to wait until they have been separated for a period of five years before divorce proceedings can be commenced. This can often have an adverse effect on one party who may need to deal with and finalise the financial matters, which cannot be done unless the Decree Nisi has been pronounced in divorce. This issue was highlighted in the recent case of Owens and Owens where the wife, Tina Owens, wished to divorce her husband. However, Mr Owens would not consent to a divorce. Following a landmark court battle, Mrs Owens lost her case and had to remain married to Mr Owens and now has to wait until five years separation has elapsed.

If implemented, no-fault divorce could result in divorces becoming more amicable and make separation easier on both parties. This in turn can have the impact of making the financial and children matters easier as it can eradicate a lot of the acrimony which can be caused by one party citing allegations of behaviour and the other having to either accept blame for the marriage coming to an end, or enter into very costly contested divorce proceedings.

If you would like any further information regarding divorce or separation please contact a member of our family team.

4th March, 2019