CHANGES: MPS have backed 'no fault' divorces
CHANGES: MPS have backed 'no fault' divorces

Tilly, Bailey & Irvine Solicitors, in Barnard Castle, explain how "no fault" divorce will work for clients and how the process of divorce proceedings has changed over time.

A bill introducing "no-fault" divorces in England and Wales has been backed by MPs in June 2020, having passed its opening hurdle in the Commons by 231 votes in favour over 16.

Under the proposed law, those involved in the divorce will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Currently, just one spouse has to allege adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

Divorce proceedings are currently governed by law made in 1973 when attitudes to divorce were much different now. It was very much the “blame game” but over time that has softened even though we are still governed by the same 1973 law. Undefended divorces are generally dealt with on paper and rarely is an attendance required at court.

In 1995 Parliament considered changing the rules on petitions and make them on a no fault basis, but the legislation was abandoned.

In 2018, a defended divorce case (which are rare) hit the headlines because the wife relied on the fact of her husband’s alleged behaviour in her divorce petition. However, the Supreme Court upheld the husband’s case. It means that the wife has to remain married to her estranged husband for a few more years before she can rely on the fact that the parties will have been separated for over 5 years.

This case and the ensuing press coverage, has resulted in Parliament being asked to consider legislating on a “no fault” divorce system which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows so it is not with immediate effect, but TBI’s head of Private Family Law, Wendy Beacom, believes it will eventually be made law.

“Some will argue that will make divorcing easier. In my experience, it will not because for most parties separating is an emotionally difficult time. At the end of the day, a party is making a decision to end a marriage (or indeed a relationship) and it is a highly stressful and anxious period in their lives.

“If issuing a divorce petition without pointing the finger at the other party can ease the acrimony that can result from a party being blamed for their behaviour, then that has to be beneficial particularly for children of the family.”

TBI’s Family Law Team and can be contacted remotely via their website, telephone or email.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine take pride in helping others. If you require legal support, contact our specialist team of Teesside solicitors to discuss family law, conveyancing, personal injury claims, wills and probate or business matters on 01833 638326.