No fault divorce

We reported in earlier newsletters on the sad case of the wife who was not permitted, under existing divorce laws, to divorce her husband, despite being in a loveless marriage. The Court was sympathetic to her position but felt that it could not allow her divorce based on the law as it stands.

At the moment, a marriage can only be brought to an end if the marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'. There are five grounds to establish this:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent

The Government has concluded a consultation into what is being called 'no fault' divorce. The problem with the existing system is that it often requires on party to place some 'blame' on the other to establish one of the above grounds. This process of blame is not helpful to the parties and, crucially, any children involved.

The proposals are that the need for evidence of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour will be replaced by a statement of irretrievable breakdown. The two-stage process of divorce (decree nisi and decree absolute) will remain. It is also proposed that there will be the option for a joint application for divorce.

The Government has promised legislation to introduce no fault divorce as soon as parliamentary time allows. We will report further when the proposal becomes law.

If you need to discuss any family related matter, contact us.