Divorce is a process that few people undertake lightly. Many hours of thought and careful consideration precede an appointment with a solicitor to discuss the options available, and the best way forward.
Many divorcing couples have no desire to engage in a “mud slinging” exercise involving detailed and specific allegations against the other. They often wish to proceed with divorce as quickly and amicably as possible, in order for them and their children to move past the initial separation towards rebuilding a new future for all concerned. Clients often suggest a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences”. Unfortunately there is no such ground in this country and the only ground is “irretrievable breakdown”, which is supported by one of five facts; unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, two years separation with consent or five years separation.
When neither party wishes to make allegations against the other and there has been no adultery by either party, often the solution is to issue a divorce petition once the parties have been separated for two years. But what if they don’t want to wait?
At present the only alternative is to petition using the “fault based” fact of unreasonable behaviour. This requires a short list of particulars of alleged behaviour that resulted in the petitioner feeling they can no longer live with the respondent. This can be difficult for the petitioner particularly if the separation has been amicable and both parties are looking towards a resolution of other aspects of the family breakdown such as financial or child related issues.
A new study has been commissioned to consider the present law and how it can be reformed. Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers, reported that in 2012, 48% of divorces were granted on the basis of behaviour, and 14% on adultery. The Law Commission has long since acknowledged the difficulties that arise following a fault based divorce; a major issue being the significant increase in conflict and hostility between the parties.
Divorce and separation does not have to focus on blame or who was at fault. Collaborative law allows parties to meet and discuss solutions, resolving issues as they arise. Both parties have the support and legal expertise of their own solicitors throughout the process, and the parties and their solicitors will attend meetings together to work towards a resolution that best meets the needs of the parties and their family.
Until such time as there is reform of the current law surrounding divorce, you can agree together during a meeting with solicitors the ground for divorce. Accusations need not be hurtled across the courtroom, instead both parties can discuss the reasons face to face reaching a resolution both feel comfortable with.
The meetings can then continue to address all aspects of the family breakdown including finances, children and child care as well as housing and other needs.
Here at Farleys Solicitors, our family law team are strong advocates of collaborative law, promoting the conflict free resolution of family law matters. For further information on how to make collaborative law work for you call 0845 050 1958, alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.