Changes to Divorce Law: The No-fault Divorce
The government has recently confirmed plans to reform the current divorce laws to introduce the legal process of a no-fault divorce. What does this mean?
The changes that will be made represent a huge overhaul of the current divorce law, which was introduced in 1973. It has been widely reported that many in the legal profession feel that the current divorce law is outdated and that the fault-based element that (sometimes must) be utilised concerning divorce proceedings runs contrary to the principle of a divorce taking place in a conciliatory and non-confrontational way.
The introduction of no fault divorce will lead to a removal of the five 'facts' that are currently used on divorce; three of those facts are based on periods of separation and two are fault-based, namely adultery and behaviour. A no-fault divorce will not lead to the apportionment of blame for a marriage breakdown. However, a couple or one party to the marriage will still need to notify the Court that they consider the marriage to have irretrievably broken down.
The introduction of a no-fault divorce will also bring with it a change to the current divorce process by allowing a couple to give notice jointly to the Court of their intention to commence the divorce process, removing the ability for one person to contest the divorce and to introduce the minimum timeframe of six months between the initial stage of the divorce, the divorce petition and the final stage of the divorce, the decree absolute.
It is hoped that the introduction of a no-fault divorce will reduce conflict between a divorcing couple which can be particularly important when dealing with often highly sensitive and difficult issues, such as resolving financial matters and arrangements for the care of children.
The planned changes will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
At the time of writing, it is understood that the new law will be introduced as soon as possible when sufficient Parliamentary time allows.
This literature is intended purely as an overview of this area of law and no action should be taken upon it without specific legal advice.