No Fault Divorce being debated in House of Commons
Richard Bacon MP’s No Fault Divorce Bill is having its second reading in the House of Commons and Resolution, the leading organisation for family lawyers, is urging MPs to support the principle of no fault divorce it they are serious about reducing family conflict and the ongoing impact of divorce. Resolution commissioned a survey in June 2015 looking at the difference between fault based divorce petitions (on the grounds of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour) and no-fault based petitions (2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation or desertion). The results revealed the following:
1. Over half (52%) of divorce petitions issued in England and Wales were fault-based alleging either unreasonable behaviour or adultery; and
2. 27% of divorcing couples who asserted blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegation of fault wasn’t true, but unreasonable behaviour and a fault based petition was the easiest option.
The government have previously had the ability to bring in no-fault divorce. Provisions for this were contained in the Family Law Act 1996 but these provisions were never enacted into law and have since been repealed. Resolution chair, Jo Edwards, says:
“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 This outdated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.”
Time will tell whether the No Fault Divorce Bill goes all the way to becoming law in England and Wales. Watch this space.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.