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What is a 'No Fault' Divorce?

There are only 5 grounds upon which you can prove to the court that your marriage has broken down. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years’ separation and 5 years’ separation.  Around 95% of my clients come to me within 6 months of formally separating from their spouse. The majority of those cases cannot use the grounds of adultery or desertion. The others are concerned that they cannot prove adultery and that their spouse will not co-operate with such a petition and would deny that they have committed adultery. That leaves unreasonable behaviour as their only option for an immediate divorce as they do not wish to wait any longer before starting the process.

Unreasonable behaviour is therefore the most popular ground for divorce. It does, however, mean that at a time where a couple are separating, one party has to make 5 or 6 allegations against the other.  Although I always try to keep these allegations as factual and as composed as possible, making these comments can be hurtful to the other party. This very often leads to further confrontation and arguments between the couple at a time where they are already struggling to work together, in most cases for the sake of their children. 

Resolution, the body for family lawyers who promote a non-confrontational and constructive approach to family law, are campaigning for the introduction of a no-fault divorce. This means that married couples who have decided to separate can have a more dignified and agreeable end to their marriage without needing to wait for 2 or 5 years to divorce. Resolution also predicts that the introduction of no-fault divorce will encourage separating couples to attend mediation, leading to a reduction in Court time needed to resolve children and financial matters. 

As a Resolution member, I would welcome the introduction of no fault divorce to allow my clients to divorce in a calmer, more constructive way.  Until then, it is up to the lawyers and the parties themselves to try to minimise the impact of divorce as far as possible.

If you would like to discuss this issue further in relation to your personal circumstances, please contact Melanie Tubbs at our Rugby office on 01788 55 77 00.