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What can we do if neither of us is to blame for our divorce?

The second reading of a Bill intending to introduce “no fault divorce” (the first of which was read in October 2015) will come before the House of Commons on 22nd January 2016. At present in the UK, there is only one ground for divorce, namely the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This can be proved in one of five ways by citing either adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years separation by consent or five years separation without.

Currently to divorce without alleging fault, parties have to rely on two years separation by consent or five years separation, or provide one of the above reasons for the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of their marriage. Over a quarter of marriages in the UK in the last year placed blame on one of the parties for ease of not having a prolonged separation when in actual fact the reason they gave may not have been true, according to research from Resolution.

Part of the proposed revision to the law is the addition of a sixth fact, whereby a couple could sign a declaration to say that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, without the need for either party to make allegations about the reasons for the breakdown.

If the proposals are approved, couples will be able to divorce without alleging fault and without waiting for the separation periods which are currently required. This will enable them to concentrate on managing their separation as amicably as possible and may appeal to many couples, particularly when they have children together. ‘No fault’ divorce has the potential to reduce family tensions and conflict, but the proposal has been met with opposition, claiming that it challenges the sanctity of marriage. It is important to note however, that a no fault divorce does not equate to a ‘quickie’ divorce and is not a measure to make divorce any easier, but rather allow both parties to move on with their lives without laying the blame at one person’s door.

Napthens Solicitors Employee Lisa McLachlan