No fault divorce - It's the future?

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01 July, 2019

There have been calls for Divorce law reform for a number of years and it now seems that a positive decision to that is imminent.

MP's are debating The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill which, if passed, will overhaul the current system of fault-based divorce. The idea behind the Bill is to attempt to reduce conflict between the parties during divorce proceedings.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said it was "time to end the blame game" and believes that such a move will initially see a spike in divorce rates although envisaged that they would soon level out. With the current system parties who do not wish to apportion blame and seek an amicable split must wait either two or five years. The current system means couples must live apart for 2 years and many find this financially impossible. With an introduction to a no fault divorce those very same people may well move forward their application and be in a position to resolve matters much sooner than is currently the case.

There are many for and many against such a reform. Fiona Bruce, the Conservative MP for Congleton, is very much against it and believes it will mean a party can leave the marriage with "…little if any recourse for the party that has been left". However, Richard Burgon, the Shadow Justice Secretary indicated that Labour would be supporting such reform and argued it would protect from domestic abuse, limit toxic marriages and protect children by encouraging amicable separations.

Many countries have introduced a no fault-based divorce system and whilst a surge in divorce rates are forecast that is not the experience in those countries.

The Office of National Statistics reported that 110,000 couples divorced in England and Wales in 2018. Whether that number remains relatively consistent or indeed surges remains to be seen but any move to reduce conflict in what is already a very difficult and distressing time can only be a step in the right direction.

For more information contact Samuel McDevitt in our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 01257 260600. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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