What is a no fault based divorce?

Written by Sam Carroll

September 18, 2018

Divorce is once again the news because last week the Justice Secretary David Gauke revealed that the Government is planning a consultation paper on the introduction of the no fault based divorce. This is likely to be in response to the refusal of the Supreme Court to grant Tina Owens a divorce based on the fact of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour because the allegations of fault did not go far enough and Mrs Owens now has to wait until she has been separated from Mr Owens for five years to get her divorce.

So what does it mean in practice? Currently the law in England and Wales means that to get divorce not only do you have to succeed in claiming that a marriage has irretrievably broken down, it has to be based on one of five facts two of which apportion blame which is adultery and unreasonable behaviour.

What the Government wants to do and what many Family Law solicitors have been campaigning for is the introduction of a divorce process that does not involve blaming the other for causing the end of the marriage and having to set out a number of allegations and examples of wrong doing. Experience has found that having to make out allegations and criticising  your ex-partner gets parties to a divorce off on the wrong foot and this can really impact on the ease with which a couple can go on to negotiate arrangements for their children and a financial settlement. It can create or add to ill feeling and negative emotion which is not conducive to negotiations or to co-parenting in the future.

Whilst the specifics of the changes have yet to be published it is widely thought that the paper will recommend an end to the blame game which can only be good for families many of whom are already feeling the emotional strain of the breakup of the family.  The divorce law is unchanged in 50 years during which time we have seen the introduction of new laws reflecting our changing society such as allowing same sex couples to marry. We need to bring divorce law into modern times. Next on the Government’s agenda is to bring cohabitation breaks into line with divorce. The time has come to stop treating cohabitees differently to spouses when it comes to their rights on separation and on death.


Townsend Family Law are able to provide services tailored to your budget. Should you require assistance please telephone us on 01992 892214.

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