K J Smith Solicitors

Couples should be allowed to apply for ‘no fault divorce’, says Conservative MP

Published: 23 October 2015

A conservative MP has proposed a new No Fault Divorce Bill that would allow separating couples to divorce without the need of blame to be assigned to either party. Richard Bacon MP, believes that it could work by allowing couples to sign a declaration which states that there is no direct fault for the break up and that the marriage has 'irretrievably' broken down.

Currently, married couples seeking a divorce have to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and provide the courts with evidence of this using one of five criteria; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for 2 years or more, both parties have lived apart for at least 2 years continuously or both parties have lived apart for at least 5 years continuously.

South Norfolk MP, Mr Bacon feels that his new Bill would allow couples to break up more amicably without "throwing mud" at each other during the process and that his proposal isn't to make divorce easier, just to reduce some of the heartache and stress caused by the "tragedy" of divorce.

The first reading of Mr Bacon’s No Fault Divorce Bill has been passed, even despiteopposition from Conservative MP for Gainsborough, Sir Edward Leigh.

Sir Edward is concerned that the option of a ‘no fault divorce’ would lead to an increase in the number of divorces and would make it "easier" for couples to get divorced. He also stated that this change of law would have a "large, widespread and demonstrable effect on societies in which it has been introduced."

Mr Bacon addressed the concerns by stating that he doesn’t wish to make divorce easier, because he doesn’t believe divorce should be easy. He also made the point that couples can get divorced in just five months and so a ‘quickie divorce’ is already currently available. His argument was that having the option of a ‘no fault divorce’ would allow couples to separate without blaming one another and it would allow those separating more time to reflect on whether a divorce is the right action to take for themselves and for their family.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Bacon said, "I propose one simple amendment to the law - the option of divorce without blame - where a petitioner who wished to do so, rather than offering the court one of the five facts currently required of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion etc, could instead satisfy a court a marriage had broken down irretrievably with a sixth fact".

This Bill coincides with a new study, commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation, which will look at the concept of fault in the current divorce system and whether there is evidence to suggest a 'no fault divorce' system can work in England and Wales. Led by a team from Exeter University, the study will run for the next 2 years from October 2015 and will be split into three key phases; a 'Public Attitudes Survey', a 'Producing a Petition Study', and a 'Court Scrutiny Study', with the results of the first phase being made available to the public in Spring 2016. The full proposal summary for this new study can be found here.

If your relationship has broken down and you are considering divorce the K J Smith Solicitors are here to help. Our team of family law specialists will ensure that you understand all the options available to you and we will advise on the best course of action to take to protect you and your family.

For more information, or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation with one of our team, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) or 01483 370100 (Guildford) or email info@kjsmith.co.uk.

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