The No Fault Divorce Bill 2015-2016 is due to have its second reading on Friday 4 December 2015.
The Private Member’s Bill proposes an amendment to the current law enabling couples to get a divorce without raising an allegation of ‘fault’ against their spouse. If they both agree that the marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’, that will be sufficient to progress a divorce.
Under current law, married couples wishing to divorce immediately have to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour. In order to achieve a ‘consensual’ divorce it is necessary to separate for two years before starting proceedings. If a spouse wishes to divorce without alleging fault and the other does not consent to a divorce based on their two-year separation, it might be necessary to wait for five years after separation to start proceedings. This is far from ideal.
Amy Chapman, a solicitor in the family law unit at Langleys Solicitors, comments:
“Those couples who have just ‘fallen out of love’ will not have to allege an element of fault against each other, which they can find difficult, or wait until they have been separated for a period of two years to get divorced.
“Whilst the reason for the divorce makes no practical difference, using ‘fault’ such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour can often increase acrimony at a time when emotions are already high.
“No fault divorce should reduce the potential animosity between a couple. It will also mean that they can concentrate on more important issues including the arrangements for any children and reaching a financial settlement. In practice ‘fault’ has no real bearing on these matters in any event.”
MPs passed the first reading of the No Fault Divorce in the House of Commons in October.