At present, the law sets out the circumstances in which a divorce can be obtained. If a couple wishing to divorce would like to do so without apportioning blame against one another, the current law requires them to wait for a period of two years before they can proceed. If they do not want to wait that long, then one of them will need to cite another reason for the divorce – usually either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
The apportioning of blame can make an already difficult process much harder. An element of unpleasantness can be introduced at a time when exceptionally important decisions often need to be made regarding children or finances, and it can lead to a lack of cooperation between the divorcing couple. A lack of cooperation can in turn lead to lengthy, traumatic and costly proceedings and the future of the couple’s relationship with each other and their children could potentially be put at risk.
Resolution has produced a Manifesto for Family Law which calls for a change in the law to allow couples to divorce without blame. The suggestion is that there should be a six month cooling off period at the end of which a divorce can be finalised without the need to apportion any blame.
This would allow a divorcing couple to focus on the future and the best arrangements for everybody going forward, rather than looking back at what may have gone wrong during the marriage. Research shows that divorce in itself does not harm children, but ongoing parental conflict can. Anything which can keep conflict to a minimum must surely be a positive step.
We are lagging behind our European neighbours by not having a no-fault option for divorce. The introduction of this option would not make getting divorced any easier (all the major decisions would still need to be made) nor would it undermine the institute of marriage. It would simply help reduce conflict and animosity during the process.
Family Law Associates is in favour of the introduction of a no-fault divorce as well as the other features of the Resolution Manifesto for Family Law which can be found in full here.