Today the No Fault Divorce Bill will receive it’s second reading in the House of Commons.
At the moment, until couples have been separated for 2 years, there is no provision for a “no fault” divorce. This means that if parties wish to formally conclude their marriage, which in turn enables them to obtain finality and security in relation to the division of finances, then a divorce must be issued with one party “blaming” the other. A couple cannot divorce simply because they both think the marriage is over. The proposed “no fault” divorce will enable couples to formalise their separation by way of divorce by simply reflecting that their marriage is not saveable and that they mutually agree to a divorce. The existing “blame” grounds of behaviour and adultery would also remain available so there would then be 6 grounds upon which a divorce petition could be issued.
In our view this is a positive move and the new ground would be welcomed. We come across situations time and time again where we are advised that couples have simply grown apart and no longer wish to be together. Whilst we would always draft a divorce petition as palatably as possible, we cannot avoid the fact that if parties wish to go down the divorce route prior to the 2 year mark then an element of blame has to be atrributed to the other party to enable the Court to justify the divorce being pronounced. The current law, in our view, simply ignores the impact this may have on family relationships and particularly on the children. Whilst this change may not completely eradicate negative feelings couples may have about the other, we hope that by introducing a “no fault” divorce” we will no longer have situations where the reasons cited in a divorce petition, borne out of the limitations within the current law, will negatively impact on how couples approach arrangements for the children or how to split matrimonial finances.