Why do you have to play the blame game when divorcing?

27/11/2015

As lawyers advising on divorce we are often asked why one party has to blame the other spouse for the breakdown of the marriage especially as this only seems to add friction to the process. If you don’t want to blame the breakdown of the marriage on your spouse then you have to wait a minimum of two years before sending your divorce papers to the Court. .

Unfortunately, although no fault divorces were initially considered by Parliament when drafting the Family Law Act 1996, these provisions did not make the final Act. Legislators were concerned that making divorce less contentious might lead to an increased divorce rate.

Instead there are 5 grounds for divorce:

  • 2 years separation with the consent of the other spouse; or
  • 5 years separation; or
  • Desertion, which involves the virtual disappearance of a spouse; or
  • Adultery; or
  • Unreasonable behaviour.The last three grounds force the party issuing the divorce proceedings to state that the breakdown of the marriage has been caused solely by the actions of their spouse. To secure a divorce on the basis of unreasonable behaviour the divorce petition must include a number of examples of the other party’s unacceptable behaviour. This can by its own nature create problems between the parties particularly if it forces the spouses to revisit painful memories and incidents. Often this can reignite hostility and create problems between the parties where previously there had been agreement. We always recommend that the divorce petition should be as non confrontational as possible and should not be used to provide a long catalogue of grievances. . We can advise you on the contents of the petition and suggest ways of trying to reduce any unnecessary animosity between you and your spouse.

Meanwhile Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales have been campaigning for a ‘no fault divorce’ system in England and Wales. Resolution believes;

“A civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process which encourages people to look forward rather than at what has happened in the past. Couples should be free, if they wish to do so, to achieve financial certainty much more quickly after relationship breakdown. We lag behind many other jurisdictions in not having a mutual consent option or no fault approach that does not involve a substantial waiting period”

(http://www.resolution.org.uk)

At Hine Solicitors, all members of our family department are members of Resolution, and as such we take all possible steps to avoid proceedings becoming acrimonious. Should couples wish to wait for two years so that they can achieve a no fault divorce we work with our clients to ensure that in the interim finances issues are addressed.

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