A recent ITV programme, Divorce Wars, highlighted the controversial question of whether there should be a change in the law to enable a ‘no fault’ divorce.
As the law currently stands, you must have been married for a year before you can obtain a divorce, and you have to show the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. To support this, a party has to rely on one of five facts: adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years of separation with consent or five years of separation without.
This means that for a divorce to be granted, someone in the marriage has to be blamed or the couple will need to have lived separately for a considerable length of time.
A no fault divorce, however, would mean couples could end their marriage without apportioning any blame.
The programme conducted interviews with organisations that have two opposing views: the family law organisation Resolution, which supports the change in the law, and campaigners against change.
Couples going through divorce or who have been through the process were also interviewed. One couple decided they would spend a weekend at a ‘divorce hotel’ with assistance from a counsellor and lawyer. This concept is based on mediation – with a view to resolving their divorce and financial matters in just two days. It is an expensive option, and although it may work for some couples, if there are complex financial matters it might not be the right course to take.
Resolution is of the view that “no fault should be the default”, whereas campaigners against the change in law believe traditional marriages should be given the chance to work.
It was clear from the views of couples going through the divorce process that a no fault divorce would be preferred. Couples felt a marriage is freely entered into and therefore the State should not have a say about when they decide to end their marriage.
Consideration was also given to the impact divorce has on children and how a no fault divorce can help make sure they don’t have negative views of either of their parents.
The debate continues. Is our law old fashioned and out of date? Is it now time to make changes to ease the process for couples or does it simply undermine the meaning of marriage?
If you need any advice on the best way forward for your own separation or divorce, please call 01392 421777 in Exeter or 01752 674999 in Plymouth to make a free initial appointment. Appointments are also available in Taunton and you can call our dedicated number 01823 785070.