Why isn’t No fault Divorce possible in England and Wales?

Invariably when asked why they want a divorce the majority of clients respond "irretrievable breakdown".  This is the conclusion that they have come to over time.  It is rare to decide to divorce on the spur of the moment.. Usually it takes a minimum of six months from deciding that they wish to leave the marriage, to taking the first step to do something about it.  Once they have told the other Party and they are therefore  dealing with the aftermath of that discussion,  they then usually want everything to be sorted out in a quick, easy and cost effective way. By easy what they mean is - in a way that minimises further upset.  After all they have just had a very difficult conversation with someone that they once loved.

At present - if the other person has not committed adultery - then although the client may not wish to do so - if they don't want to spend a minimum of two years in limbo, they have to list allegations of the other person's behaviour that could be considered unreasonable. 

There may be a few who need to blame the other person but even those people will often acknowledge that the reasons for the martial breakdown are not one sided - the situation is far more complex than that.  In reality as a consequence of both spouses either doing or saying things, or them not doing or not saying things and the two of them then not being able to discuss why and work out a way forward, they have reached the point where one of them has decided that they would prefer to end the marriage rather than continue it.

Perhaps rather than "No fault Divorce" it should be "No blame Divorce". 

Many clients cry whilst they explain that they have decided to bring their marriage to an end; many clients are angry - often with themselves; they feel they have failed; mostly they are saddened by what has happened and they are anxious about the trauma that they believe is about to unfold.  There are too many horror stories and too few occasions that they know of where a couple have divorced in a dignified way.

Most importantly although one Party may have decided that the marriage is at an end - their role as a parent is not at an end.  If there are children - apportioning blame is unlikely to assist the transition to a achieving good ongoing parental arrangements.

On 11 March, for the third time, Richard Bacon's Private Members Bill failed to be debated in Parliament because it was too low on the Order Paper.  A letter has now been sent to David Cameron by the Chair of Resolution asking that the Government commit to introducing legislation that enables couples in England and Wales to divorce without having to attribute fault - this has been possible in Scotland since 2006.

Please click here to read a copy of the letter

Posted on: 18/03/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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