The No Fault Divorce Bill

The No Fault Divorce Bill is due to have its second reading through the House of Commons on the 22nd April 2016. Richard Bacon MP introduced the bill in October 2015. The bill proposes to introduce the sixth no fault fact for divorce that will give couples the opportunity to present a joint petition or a joint application in the case of a civil partnership. Mr Bacon MP has said that it was not his intention to make divorce easier but to create the opportunity for a couple to achieve a divorce without having to throw mud at each other.

At the moment, the legal system means that the divorce proceedings have to be issued on the basis of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, this has to be supported by one of five facts:-

  1. Adultery by one person which means the other person finds it intolerable to live with them.
  1. That the person responding to the divorce petition has behaved in such a way that the person issuing the divorce petition cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
  1. That one spouse has deserted the other. They have to have been separated for a period of two years.
  1. That the couple have separated two of more years ago and both of them agree to a divorce.
  1. The couple have been separated for a period of 5 years or more.

A lot of other countries have no fault divorce already. In the USA, several States have “irreconcilable differences” as a ground for divorce. Australia, Switzerland and Canada also have no fault divorce.

However, there are some in the House of Commons and House of Lords who are opposed to the introduction of no fault divorce. Their main reasoning is that this makes the divorce process easier and is likely to undermine the importance of marriage.

vickie-medd-hsVicky Medd, partner at Ridley & Hall and head of the Family and Mediation team stated “I do sincerely hope that ‘no fault’ divorces can be introduced in this country. Having to blame one person or another adds to an already difficult situation and merely inflames the bad feeling that exists between the two. Taking away the fault in relation to divorce would certainly assist couples to engender more positive relationships with each other.”

For legal advice on this or any aspect of family law, please call us on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to a member of the FamilyFirst team.