No-Fault Divorce Bill Introduced To Parliament

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was introduced to the House of Commons last week.

Once the Bill is enacted, those within failing marriages will be able to divorce without having to blame their partner.

Following a consultation in April, there was an overwhelming demand for no-fault divorces. It is hoped that it will result in more amicable separations with a reduction in long-term animosity.

The ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown’ will enable a marriage to be dissolved without the consent of both parties and without casting assertions of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour which could cause resentment for years to come.

Following the consultation, a number of family law experts warned that the Bill, in its previous iteration, could cause the premature end of many salvageable marriages. The new Bill now includes a time delay of 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and the official conformation to the court of an order being made.

This additional time is in addition to the six week gap separating the decree nisi (document stating the intended marriage end date unless a specific and legitimate objection is lodged) and decree absolute. It is thought that a period of reflection will enable those within the relationship to consider their options before the request is enforced.

David Gauke, Secretary of State for Justice, commented:

“Where a marriage or civil partnership regrettably breaks down and is beyond repair, the law must deal with that reality with the minimum of acrimony by creating the conditions for people to move forward and agree arrangements for the future in an orderly and constructive way.

“The requirement for one person to blame the other…can introduce or worsen conflict at the outset of the process, conflict that may continue long after the legal process has concluded.

“[Time delays] will make the period before the conditional order is granted longer for most people, and so allow better opportunity for reflecting on the decision to divorce and, where this is inevitable, agreeing practical arrangements for the future.”

How will the implementation of no-fault divorces help families?