House of Commons publishes briefing paper on no fault divorce
Back in May we reported on the progress of a Private Members Bill which seeks to bring in no fault divorce. The bill aims to allow spouses who wish to divorce to be able to do so by informing the court that they have mutually agreed their relationship is over and they would like a divorce. A no fault divorce would potentially bring an end to spouses having to rely on unreasonable behaviour allegations, which can inflame an already upsetting and difficult situation.
Resolution, the main organisation representing family solicitors, mediators and independent financial advisors working on family cases, conducted research in June 2015 which found that over half of all divorce petitions were fault-based (citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery). It is presumed these petitions were filed by people who for whatever reason could not wait 2 years or more to get divorced, or where one spouse did not consent to the divorce. Of those petitions, 27% said that the allegations within the petition were not true but a fault based position was the easiest option.
Now the House of Commons library has recently published a briefing paper considering the current basis for divorce and arguments for and against the introduction of no fault divorce. The briefing paper covers the current basis for divorce in England and Wales and goes on to look at the pros and cons of whether no fault divorce should be introduced and made law. No fault divorce is generally regarded as reducing the conflict which can be caused by allegations of fault. However, arguments against the introduction of no fault divorce include that the institution of marriage should be supported; the risk of the divorce rate increasing if it is perceived to be easier to get a divorce; and the negative impact of family breakdown.
For every professional working with separating couples and families, we wait with anticipation to see whether no fault divorce will become law. Until then our aim is to guide our clients through the process as amicable and cost effectively as possible.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.