Legal Eagle: Why there must be ‘blame’ if you don’t want to wait for a divorce

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My husband and I are wanting to get divorced. We have been married for 10 years but we simply don’t love each other anymore.

We are still living together and have both agreed that divorce would be best for our children. I have heard that if we want to get divorced now, one of us will have to blame the other.
We don’t want to do this because it’s been a mutual decision and we have remained civil with each other. What do I need to do next?

At the moment in England and Wales if you want to obtain a divorce the reason for that must fall into one of five areas.

These are adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, you and your husband have been separated for two years and you both consent to the divorce, or you and your husband have been separated for five years.

Therefore if you and your husband want to get divorced now and you are still living together, one of you will need to “blame” the other and show why your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

This can be done under the behaviour reason. You will need to explain to the judge who reads your application why the marriage has broken down and what behaviour has caused this to be the case.

This area of law is currently being explored by the Supreme Court to allow couples to not have to wait so long if they don’t want to blame each other for the marriage break down.

However, as the law stands at present, if you don’t want to blame your spouse for the marriage breakdown then you will have to wait for at least two years after you have separated.

If you do want to wait the two years, you are able to make decisions regarding the children and your finances without starting the divorce proceedings.

One way in which you can do this is to attend mediation. This will assist with any decisions you are having trouble agreeing on including finances and arrangements for the children.

If this can be decided before the divorce proceedings it can make that process much easier.

If an agreement is reached in mediation, this can be made legally binding by the court in the form of a consent order.

If you are considering a divorce it is important to obtain some legal advice before starting the process.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist family solicitors who can advise you on all issues regarding separation and divorce.

To speak to a solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.