The House of Commons Library has issued a briefing paper for considering the pros and cons of introducing a “no fault” based divorce.

The law at present:-

  • The only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
  • The irretrievable breakdown is proven with one of five facts:-
  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Adultery
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years separation with the Respondent’s consent
  5. Five years separation

Some statistics:-

  • In 2012 62% of divorces were issued using a fault based fact (1, 2 or 3 above).
  • 9% of the fault based divorces in 2012 were unreasonable behaviour petitions
  • Resolution published statistics in 2015 stating that 27% of divorcing couples who issued a fault based petition admitted that the allegations of fault were not true, but it was the easiest way to get a divorce without having to wait for two years separation.

The bitterness and damage caused by divorce cannot be underestimated, and the impact on the parties and the children of the family can often be significant and long lasting. It can impact on future relationships, the ability to co-parent children,  mental health and happiness.

Some senior members of the Judiciary have called for the introduction of a no fault based divorce, in the hope that it will reduce the conflict and animosity between couples that can be caused by allegations of fault and allow the separated family to move forward quickly and with less distress. The lesser conflict can allow more meaningful discussions about caring for the children and division of assets, rather than both parties “taking sides from which to fight”.

Opposition to the proposals has been raised with concerns relating to an increased divorce rate if it is seen to be easier to get divorced, and it could encourage people to proceed with divorce more readily than before.

The debate continues and the outcome will be eagerly awaited by many family lawyers and members of Resolution who believe in a constructive and non confrontational approach to family law matters.

For more information on Divorce, or any other family law issue that you and your family may be facing, please contact a member of our dedicated family law team on 0845 287 0939. Alternatively you can complete an online enquiry form and a member of the team will get back to you.