Baroness Hale of Richmond, the deputy president of the Supreme Court, has said that divorce laws in England and Wales should remove the need for allegations of adultery and blame as she wants to see the bitterness taken out of matrimonial disputes so that former partners do not need to be held at fault in order to obtain a divorce.
In the UK, in order to obtain a divorce it is necessary to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by citing 1 of 5 facts:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion for two or more years
- Two years’ separation with consent
- Five years’ separation without consent
In a number of other countries, it is possible to petition for divorce without citing a specific reason such as adultery. Many critics are of the view that citing unfaithfulness or unreasonable behaviour during the marriage encourages conflict between former partners and that petitioning for a divorce without citing a specific reason would help to minimise bitterness between divorcing spouses.
Baroness Hale also suggested that financial settlements and arrangements for children should be resolved before a divorce is granted. However, it seems that this may create lengthy delays in parties obtaining a divorce despite the fact their marriage had broken down. Baroness Hale suggested a one-year ‘cooling off period’ after declaring that their marriage had irretrievably broken down in order to enable separating couples to sort out arrangements.
Specialist family lawyers have given their support to the introduction of a no-fault divorce in England and Wales as it will enable couples to maintain their focus on dealing with financial arrangements and arrangements for the children rather than developing animosity regarding who is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage.
It remains to be seen whether these changes will be implemented, as Conservative MPs have stated that removing fault would undermine the concept of marriage. However, what has been widely recognised is that parties undergoing separation need to look forward rather than what has happened in the past and focus on agreeing future arrangements between themselves in order to remove the animosity between them and work together for the benefit of themselves and any children of the family.
Our experienced legal team can advise you of your options following the breakdown of your marriage and are here to help you to decide what is the best way to proceed. Please contact us on 0161 927 3118 for a free 20 minute consultation.