Support the principle of no fault divorce
Today, 11 March 2016, see Richard Bacon MP’s No Fault Divorce Bill is to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons.
Bacon’s bill states that, additionally, a court should be able to grant a divorce if it is satisfied there is “an individual statement from each party that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, signed freely and independently.
Resolution chair Jo Edwards says:
“We know that our current fault-based divorce system achieves nothing besides escalating conflict during divorce. It does not act as a deterrent, nor does it help couples to salvage their marriage. The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 114,720 people divorced in England and Wales in 2013, despite fault-based petitions.”
“We are pleased to see Richard Bacon’s bill having a second reading. If MPs are serious about reducing family conflict and the trauma that can be caused by divorce, I would urge them to support the bill as a welcome step towards removing the requirement of fault from divorce.”
“Removing the blame from divorce, as proposed in Richard Bacon’s bill, would help couples who both wish to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives without the need for accusatory mud-slinging. This outdated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.”
Recent research, carried out by YouGov in June 2015, by Resolution shows that the fault-based nature of divorce in England and Wales, which requires one person to accuse the other of adultery or unreasonable behaviour to have their divorce granted within two years of marriage breakdown, is driving over a quarter (27%) of divorcing couples to make false allegations to the court.
Presently, a party has to show one of the following facts to the court:
- Desertion for more than 2 years
- Separation for two years of more with the other party’s consent
- Separation for 5 years or more without the other party’s consent
More information can be seen here.
We also provide a divorce flow chart which sets out the divorce process.
Resolution’s research found:
- 52% of divorce petitions were alleging either unreasonable behaviour or adultery
- 27% of divorcing couples who used blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegation of fault was not true but was the easiest option
Resolution has campaigned for many years for the introduction of no-fault divorce, which curiously was provided for in the Family Law Act 1996 but never implemented.
Resistance to no fault divorces has come from religious groups who fear any change to existing legislation would further loosen the bonds of marriage. One Christian organisation has described no fault divorce as making it “easier to get out of a marriage than a hire purchase agreement”.
Resolution’s Manifesto for Family Law calls for the removal of blame from the divorce process, bringing England and Wales into line with other modern jurisdictions including the United States, Australia and Spain.
London has been hailed as the divorce capital of the world but these proposed changes in law will affect parties up and down England & Wales.
As a solicitor with over 20 years’ experience I see that the public want divorce to be made easier and to take the blame out of the equation. As the law stands, if a party wants a divorce then they can get one but what happens is that ‘particulars of behaviour’ a drafted and this often sets the tone for the rest of the case and negatively impacts on any legal issues concerning the children and finances. This can cause more dispute, acrimonious proceedings and higher costs.
Sadly it is a fact of life that people separate and divorce and they should be allowed to with dignity.