Second reading of No Fault Divorce private member’s bill postponed
By Amanda Erskine
Back at the beginning of this year we reported that Richard Bacon MP had introduced a No Fault Divorce Bill into the House Of Commons. This bill urges MPs to support the principle of no fault divorce in order to help reduce family conflict and the ongoing impact of divorce. MPs will continue to debate the proposed reforms to the law, which would mean divorce would become available where both parties issue a joint petition and satisfy the court that the marriage had broken down irretrievably.
With almost 100,000 children caught up in divorces each year, 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.
Unfortunately the House of Commons has postponed the second reading of this bill and the next discussion of the bill by MPs will take place on 11 March 2016. A bill needs to go through three readings in the House of Commons before having three readings in the House of Lords. Time will tell whether the No Fault Divorce Bill goes all the way to becoming law in England and Wales but we know for sure that it will take a while. Until then, watch this space.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.