Does no-fault divorce spell the end of the blame game?

2018 has seen family lawyers put increased pressure on the current divorce law in the UK, following the controversial Supreme Court case concerning the 40-year marriage of Tini Owens and Hugh Owens. In turn, government is preparing a consultation on introducing ‘no-fault divorces’ into the UK.

The law

The current England and Wales divorce laws state, in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, that when seeking a divorce you must prove that your marriage has broken down and give one of the following five reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You have lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce
  • You have lived apart for at least five years, even if your husband or wife disagrees

Clearly, this gives rise to a blame game between the parties, and results in a less-than-acrimonious split. Arguments can rail and solicitors’ bills rack up.

An update from 2018

In the Tini Owens case, such tightness of the divorce laws were brought into question. Despite living apart from her husband and living separate lives since 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that she could not divorce her husband and escape her loveless marriage without his consent until a period of five years had elapsed.

This has sparked debate in the world of family law. At first glance one might think this is just another example of the law failing to catch up with the 21st century, but others question whether a no-fault divorce would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

Benefits of no-fault divorce

Put simply, the divorce laws are not fit for the 21st century. They are rooted in conservative Victorian values supposedly protecting the sanctity of marriage, but only undermine the institution by supporting loveless marriages, as in the case of Tini Owens. It would bring the law up to date to meet the needs of modern families.

Further, the blame game prevalent in divorce proceedings creates more antagonism than is needed. Nigel Shepherd, chairman of the National Family Lawyer’s Organisation Resolution, said that couples had been forced ‘into needless acrimony and conflict’ under the current laws, ‘to satisfy an outdated legal requirement’. In having to satisfy the court of your partner’s fault for the breakdown in marriage, positions can be entrenched and accusation after accusation thrown until one sticks. This is not pleasant for either party. But if you do not play the blame game, you have to wait years for a divorce.

No-fault divorce would make the whole process a lot quicker and more straightforward…wouldn’t it?

Contact us

We are able to provide you with a quote for a fixed cost of the divorce and to provide you with a costs estimate for dealing with any financial settlement or children issues. Our divorce fees for an undefended divorce are from as little as £199.00.

We offer a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION which many of our clients find useful to gather further information about the divorce process, the particular issues of the case and an initial view on likely outcomes.

If you would like to discuss a divorce in more detail, please get in touch with our office on 0113 244 6978 or using our online booking form to arrange an appointment.