There is no such thing as a ‘no fault’ divorce, where both parties can agree to end their marriage without the need to assign blame.
At present the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. In order to prove this a petitioner must satisfy to the court one or more of the five facts, three of which are fault based (adultery, behaviour and desertion), two of the facts relate to periods of separation – namely two years if both parties consent, and five years without consent.
For many couples that wish to separate amicably without waiting two years to apply on the grounds of living separately, unreasonable behaviour is often the only option. This unfortunately involves assigning blame in order to obtain a divorce and resolve the arrangements arising from their separation. A balancing act often has to be performed between finding examples which are sufficient enough not to be rejected by the court and not so contentious or inflammatory to lead the other spouse to not cooperate.
Divorce law has been the subject of much criticism over the years with the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby condemning that the current law is out of date, unjust and based on ‘hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty’.
Senior members of the judiciary and Resolution (national association of family lawyers) among others have called for the introduction of no-fault divorce, maintaining that the current law ‘fuel acrimony, hostility and pain – and make good long-term relationships between two parents caring for children impossible’ former high court judge Sir Paul Coleridge. The process can often lead to an unpleasant start for the rest of the process, compounding acrimony and making it difficult to resolve arrangements that need to be made in an amicable manner.
The Government has indicated that any legislative change to remove fault from divorce would be considered as part of its general consideration of what further reform may be needed to the family justice system.
The reality of the modern world is that couples do separate and sorting out the division of assets and arranging the care of the children is often the hardest aspect of ending any marriage. Divorce should not be difficult or place unnecessary and unjust hurdles. Eliminating blame would allow those involved to focus on the main issues. However, opponents of no-fault divorce worry that it might make ending marriage too easy.
To keep things as amicable as possible, it is usually best to for couples to work together with the support of mediators and or solicitors, to try and agree on what type of unreasonable behaviour they are willing to agree to. This will allow the divorce process to proceed swiftly.
At Prince Evans we can advise you on every aspect of your divorce. To find out more, call us today for a free initial consultation.