LEGAL EAGLE: New no fault divorce system will be welcomed  by many

Parliament has this week announced an act that will bring in a no fault divorce system for 2022 as Wendy Beacom of Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors in Hartlepool explains.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 12:00 am
In the main, parties wish to avoid potential for conflict where there are children involved and want relations between them to be as a civil as possible.

“About time, many will say”. It is nearly three years ago since I highlighted the changes that were being sought by family law practitioners, spearheaded by Resolution, an organisation made up of specialist family lawyers committed to the constructive resolution of issues, were long overdue.

At the current time, save for periods of separation and adultery, if a party wishes to issue divorce proceedings shortly after their marriage has irretrievably broken down they will need to rely upon “unreasonable behaviour”. The true definition of unreasonable behaviour is “the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent”.

However, there are many instances where a party simply does not wish to rely upon the other party’s behaviour and be seen to be laying blame.

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There can be a number of reasons which include avoiding an increase in an already acrimonious separation, reducing the potential for conflict that may arise if the other party becomes completely offended by the allegations raised against them or even that a party has come out of an abusive relationship and just wants to end the relationship as swiftly as possible to put it behind them.

In the main, parties wish to avoid potential for conflict where there are children involved and want relations between them to be as a civil as possible.

Some critics of the no fault divorce system state that it makes it too easy for parties to divorce. I disagree as in many circumstances the actual decision to end a relationship is often the most difficult aspect for a client.

If a party believes there is no future in a relationship then to avoid potential for additional conflict, a no fault divorce system has the real prospect of enabling parties to not focus on blame but to focus their minds on resolving arrangements for the children and separating their financial affairs.

Given that we are currently reliant upon 1973 legislation, 2022 clearly hails a new era of relevant law for parties that will be welcomed by many.