Should Divorce Be a Blame Game.
Family Law Solicitors – Newcastle and Sunderland
As the Law Gazette reports, recent calls for the introduction of a more open provision for ‘no-fault’ divorce have been dismissed by Parliament Government rebuffs latest calls for no-fault divorce. This came despite support from Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division of the High Court, and – it would seem – Joe Public.
The current position in England & Wales is that a married couple may only divorce where a Court can be satisfied that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of their relationship. The law is such that a breakdown can be demonstrated by one of five ‘facts’:
- Adultery, whether pre- or post-separation;
- Unreasonable Behaviour;
- 2 years’ separation, in circumstances where both spouses consent to divorce;
- 2 years’ separation, in circumstances where one spouse has deserted the other; and
- 5 years’ separation.
Whilst facts 3-5 are what you might call ‘no fault’ grounds, allegations of adultery or unreasonable behaviour in a divorce petition will inevitably involve an element of blame; there is clearly a certain stigma attached to the word ‘adultery’, and no one likes to be told they’re being unreasonable.
One unwelcome consequence of the current system is that a husband or wife seeking to divorce their estranged spouse, before a period of 2 years has elapsed, is effectively forced to allege some form of wrongdoing, or else remain married. As we too often see, such allegations can have a corrosive effect on the negotiations which must inevitably follow – or run alongside – the termination of the marriage.
A divorce will only dissolve the marriage between individuals, and will not sever the financial bond created between them when they tied the knot. Therefore, it is usually necessary for a formal financial settlement to be reached once a marriage is at an end, to ensure the parties become financially independent. Is forcing separating parties to play a blame game any way to set them up to reach an agreement on such financial matters?
Many feel it’s unnecessary to put fully grown adults into this predicament – in the knowledge that it may create additional enmity between people who will need to negotiate not only on financial arrangements, but the arguably more emotive issue of child arrangements. Is it time for broader no fault divorce provisions, or would this demean the institution of marriage in some way?
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