The House of Commons Library publishes ‘no fault divorce’ briefing paper

Published: 7th October 2016

A briefing paper outlining the current state of the divorce process in the UK and the arguments for and against the introduction of the 'no fault divorce' has been published by the House of Commons.

The paper covers the current basis for divorce in England and Wales and if a 'no fault divorce' system should be introduced – and how this would impact Part 2 of the Family Law Act 1996.

The paper also looks at the views from other senior members of the judiciary, Resolution, the Family Mediation Taskforce and MP Richard Bacon’s 'no fault divorce' Bill, as well as other research and developments relating to divorce.

The family law organisation Resolution conducted research in June 2015 that found that over half of all divorces were based on one partner being at fault, for reasons such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

It is presumed that those particular petitions were filed by people that didn’t want to wait 2 years to be divorced from their partner, or by people whose partner would not agree to their divorce. The research also found that 27% of the petitions contained false accusations of blame, simply because it was the easiest (or the quickest) way of getting a divorce.

In early 2016, the chair of Resolution, Nigel Shepherd issued a plea to family lawyers to continue to support the call for a no fault divorce, saying: 'It's wrong - and actually bordering on cruel - to say to couples: if you want to move on with your lives, one of you has to blame the other. The blame game needs to end, and it needs to end now. We will continue to make the case to government, supported by charities, the judiciary and the many others who support no fault divorce.'

The concept of a 'no fault divorce' is to reduce the conflict between partners when they separate. In the current system, the need to assign blame can create problems that do not need to exist, resulting in more tension between parties which can add more expense and lead to longer divorce proceedings.

However, there are several arguments against a 'no fault divorce' system being introduced. Some argue that the divorce rate could significantly increase if it becomes much easier to get a divorce from your partner. Some also believe that this will weaken the traditional values of marriage and that the increased number of divorces could lead to an increase in the number of family breakdowns.

In a new study being conducted at Exeter University, researcher Liz Trinder aims to identify how the current laws on divorce and civil partnership dissolutions function and to evaluate the potential opportunities for reforming the law. This research will include looking at how the law actually operates within the process of divorce petitioning, how specific the scrutiny of petitions for current divorce cases is and to assess whether there is a genuine need for the law to be reformed, and how it would benefit future cases.

The full House of Commons briefing paper on 'no fault divorce' is available to view online here.

If you are thinking about separation or divorce then K J Smith Solicitors can help. As a member of the organisation Resolution, K J Smith Solicitors will strive to deliver a positive outcome without conflict and in the most amicable way possible.

For more information or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation with a member 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) 01483 370100 (Guildford) or 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield).

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