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What is a no-fault divorce?

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Current divorce laws are based on legislation introduced in 1973. Those wishing to seek a divorce have to claim that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. That irretrievable breakdown has to be based on one of 5 facts namely adultery, behaviour, desertion or two years separation with the other person’s consent or five years separation without consent.

At the heart of the divorce application is “fault” and one person is effectively blaming the other for the breakdown in the marriage. The closest we get in this country to a “no fault” divorce is a divorce based on a two year separation. However, it requires the parties to have been separated for a period of two years prior to the divorce application and requires the consent of the other person. That consent may not necessarily be forthcoming.

Parliament has, over the years, been debating whether there should be a “no fault” based system. So those who feel they have simply fallen out of love with each other and drifted apart do not need to start making accusations in the divorce petition. Surveys show that many people do not think the current divorce petitions accurately describe how a marriage can break down. Many people did not believe that a divorce application should be based on the fault of the other party to the divorce which is commonly the case in many divorce applications.

Many people also believe that a no fault system would have a positive impact on family relationships especially those including children. There are those, however, who believe that a no fault system would encourage more couples to divorce.

The government attempted to introduce a no-fault divorce in 1996 but in 2001 the legislation was repealed after it proved unworkable. There are some who still continue to lobby for a no fault system and Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers along with some other groups are campaigning for a no fault divorce system. The government has said it will study the evidence for a reform but would not rush to a conclusion.

Watch this space……

For an initial consultation or guidance on taking the next step in your separation or divorce please contact our family team to discuss your options on 01908 660966 or 01604 828282 for a confidential conversation on how we can help.

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