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No-fault divorce bill to ease end of marriage disputes

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On the 22nd January 2016 the no-fault divorce bill will get a second reading, which could lead to a major shake-up in the future of divorce proceedings if passed.  Sam Miles, Family Partner, explores the bill and explains the impact this could have.

“Currently a judge will only grant divorce if the Petitioner can prove one of five grounds,” begins Sam. “These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation, or desertion.  Other than the fact of 2 or 5 years’ separation these grounds can end up placing the blame on one of the parties concerned.  This Bill proposes that when both parties in a marriage or civil partnership agree that their relationship has broken beyond repair, they don’t have to provide any evidence to support that.”

In a recent survey by Resolution conducted by YouGov in July 2015, 27% of couples who argue unreasonable behaviour admitted the claim was untrue, but simply the easiest way to get a divorce [1]. “It’s never a good idea to lie in legal proceedings as if found out the repercussions can be harsh,” continues Sam.  “The no-fault divorce bill will reduce the number of people who make false claims, as no one will be at fault.”

“The Bill is aimed to make separations more amicable, meaning that a couple can focus more on their children and financial arrangements, without getting involved in petty arguments,” continues Sam.  “Not only this, but it is also suggested that the Bill would make the divorce process smoother as the Courts will not have to spend time analysing the allegations.”

There have been some criticisms of the Bill, including whether it could lead to more divorces instead of less. “Some have commented that this Bill will simply make divorce easier,” explains Sam. “If couples are faced with what they think will be a long and emotional process, they may wish to think twice about whether to separate and it may encourage them to try to repair rather than end their marriages.  If however they believe they won’t have to prove any of the allegations, it may speed up their decision.”

Sam concludes, “If a couple are unhappy in their relationship and have made the decision to separate it can not only be devastating for them but also for their children.  Making the decision to go separate ways is life changing, and so this Bill could help to alleviate the anxieties people may have over the process, and will go a long way to minimising the animosity that can further damage a family.  This will not be the case for all relationships, and for these it’s comforting to know that mediation is also an option for them in reaching the best decisions for their children and financial arrangements following a split.”

If you’re looking for advice on mediation or divorce you can contact Sam or the family team on 02380 717431 or click on their section of the website here.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.