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The No Fault Divorce Bill and the shift away from the 'blame game'

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The No Fault Divorce Bill and the shift away from the blame game

As the No Fault Divorce Bill has now passed the final stage and is expected to be implemented in Autumn 2021, it has subsequently brought with it a lot of curiosity from people who are questioning the extent of the impact this change in the law will have on the current divorce process.

The short answer as to whether the change in the law will affect the current divorce process is both yes and no!

Why yes?

Currently, to petition for a divorce the party applying must prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This is evidenced by one of the following facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation (of two years with the consent of both parties, and five years without such consent). The current law means that spouses wanting to divorce without a delay of two or five years must effectively blame the other party, as the adultery or unreasonable behaviour must be that of the other spouse rather than the party applying for the divorce (this is explained in more detail in a prior blog which can be found on our website).

The change to no-fault divorce will allow couples to bring proceedings on a mutual basis. It is much less confrontational and should hopefully decrease court time and avoidable litigation as it encourages a more amicable process.

Why no?

The current guidance dictates that lawyers should, as far as possible, minimise conflict and promote an amicable divorce process for their client. This is done in many ways and an example of this is when using the fact of unreasonable behaviour. When relying on the other spouse’s unreasonable behaviour, it is common practice to use mild examples for example your spouse not helping with the household chores. It is also standard practice to send a draft of the divorce petition to the other party before lodging it with the court to ensure their agreement on the contents of the application before it is filed with the Court.

As you can see current guidance and the way in which it is applied by solicitors looks to achieve a more amicable divorce that the term ‘unreasonable behaviour’ suggests. The change in the law here will align the law with the current guidance and allow for a more amicable process.

If you are considering a divorce or dissolution, please contact our Family Law Team, who will be able to advise you on your individual circumstances.

Our articles are intended for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We are always very happy to discuss any plans, issues or concerns you may have and to clarify how we might be able to help. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.