Guest post from DPP Law
Up until now, the legal system of the United Kingdom has required “grounds for divorce” to be presented before the dissolution of a marriage can be granted by the court. By contrast, in the U.S. and other parts of the world, no party is required to be blamed before proceedings may begin. As a result, this makes the U.K. system appear particularly old fashioned and unfair to many.
Because of this, the U.K. government has declared that an overhaul of the current process will take place very soon. The new approach will be that of a “no-fault” divorce with the intention of bringing this area of the country’s laws up to date.
So what is the system at present, and how would “no-fault divorce” change things?
Currently Accepted Grounds For Divorce
At the present time, you will only be permitted to file for divorce if you can provide one or more of the following reasons:
- Unreasonable behavior (a matter that is already relatively subjective)
- Desertion (when one member of the couple has “abandoned” the other for two years or more without giving a reason
You can apply for divorce without having to give any of the above as your reason, but in this case you’ll need to have been living separately for at least two years. Even then, you’ll need your spouse’s agreement to go ahead. Only if you’ve been separated for more than five years may you file for divorce without permission.
Many feel that this encourages finger-pointing, and may mean that an amicable parting of ways is made much more difficult. The chances of a good divorce are greatly reduced.
It’s often the case that a couple has simply grown apart. In some circumstances, they may still care for each other and simply feel they are not compatible romantically. The requirement for one member of the couple to shoulder the blame in these cases is unnecessary, and can be hurtful.
No Fault Divorce – What Will Change?
Under the newly proposed system, couples will be able to file for divorce jointly – potentially making a truly amicable scenario or an uncontested divorce much more achievable.
Vitally, neither member of the couple will be required to place blame on the other in order to prove that their marriage has broken down. This is likely to improve the chances of them maintaining an ongoing friendly relationship – something that is often extremely important if they have children together, or jointly run a business.
Furthermore, under the current system, it is possible for one half of a couple to refuse a divorce to the other unless they have been living apart for more than five years. This will change when the new process comes into play, which will reduce the possibility of one spouse holding the other “ransom” by ignoring their wishes.
There are individuals who feel that the new “no-fault” system will make divorce a little too easy and may lead to people making rash decisions without taking the time to work on their marriage. There are concerns that, once a divorce is finalized, those people may live to regret their decision.
However, in order to try and mitigate this potential issue, couples planning to divorce under the new process will be required to observe a waiting period of 6 months minimum between their application and the completion of their divorce. Legal experts believe that this will provide enough time for them to “opt out” if the situation changes.
The government has promised that the “no-fault” process will be brought about as soon as possible. While there are other countries that already observe a “no-fault” system, we will only know what the full impact of this change will be when it is implemented. As it stands, the abolition of rules either requiring blame to be placed or a lengthy period of separation to be observed seems very promising.
This article was provided by one of DPP Law’s family solicitors. DPP Law are Liverpool based solicitors with over 30 years of experience within family and criminal law.