Will we ever get to ‘no fault divorce’?

When Boris Johnson suspended parliament, work on 12 high-profile Bills passing through the Commons stopped.  A Bill is a proposal for a new law or a proposal to change or amend an existing law.  The Bill is presented for discussion in Parliament before it becomes an Act (law).  One of the Bills was the eagerly anticipated amendment to current divorce legislation to allow for no fault divorce.

The proposed amendments to current divorce legislation had been welcomed with open arms, not only by lawyers but my members of Parliament.  The current legislation passed in 1973 allows for divorce on limited grounds; where one party is at fault or where there has been a period of separation.

The amendment would have aligned UK divorce laws with the American system which allows couples to divorce on the basis of ‘irreconcilable differences’.  There are many advantages to allowing ‘no fault’ divorce instead of the commonly used ground of unreasonable behaviour which is all about blame and where relationships that were once amicable quickly become acrimonious.

Siobhan Rooney, a Partner in Pictons’ family departments says:

‘Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a Bill advocating for no fault divorce has fallen by the wayside due to lack of parliamentary time. The issue does not appear to be high on the agenda for politicians, despite the fact that the legal profession and family law organisations are hugely in favour of the change. The introduction of a no fault divorce really would be a game changer as far as family law is concerned, and ensure that the tone set for a parties’ separation was conciliatory and amicable. This would take some of the sting and stress out of the process, which would benefit not only the parties involved, but wider members of their families, including children who often get caught up in whether it was mum or dad’s fault that the family unit was broken down. It is important that reform is considered, not only to address an outdated point of law, but also to help people have better relationships with one another – and given that the statistics suggest that around 1 in 2 marriages will fail, the benefits will be far reaching.’

With the General Election fast approaching the risk of the bill falling by the wayside increases and we must simply wait and see what happens.  We can only hope that whoever is elected decides to pick up where Parliament left off and get the bill passed in a timely fashion.

The Family Department at Pictons offer an understanding and sympathetic approach to anyone contemplating divorce and we offer a fixed fee consultation for anyone wishing to discuss divorce.  Please call the Family Department on 0800 302 9448 to book an appointment at either our Luton, Tring or Milton Keynes office.