The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is due to have its second reading the House of Lords on the 5th of February 2020, concerning the potential introduction of a ‘no fault divorce’ option for separating couples and reforming the UK family law process.
Resolution has called the proposed changes to legislation ‘long overdue’, and the bill is strongly supported by over 6,500 family law professionals who suggest that “the adoption of no-fault divorce will help thousands of divorcing couples to minimise conflict, in turn minimising the negative impact of an acrimonious divorce on any children they might have.”
The reforms aim to simplify the separation process, removing the need for couples to assign blame when seeking a divorce – instead, they will be able to reach a mutual agreement that the marriage is over, without having to establish one of the existing give ‘facts’ to support this decision. The proposals for no-fault divorce would also remove the ability for one party to defend an application for divorce, which, under current family law, would keep the other spouse locked into the marriage against their wishes for a further five years – as seen in the case of Tini Owens, whose appeal against this issue was one of the catalysts for pushing for reforms to the law.
Resolution says: “The current divorce law doesn’t encourage co-operation. Rather, it introduces and/or escalates conflict from the outset of the divorce process, making it harder for people to make agreements about children and/or finance issues. All too often the first discussion is about who is to issue a divorce petition, on which fact, and the detail of the behaviour alleged. This can lead to polarized opinions and extensive correspondence, which sets a negative tone for the more important discussions to follow around children and money.”
The proposed changes to legislation would place less focus on who is ‘at fault’ and more on the logistics and outcomes of separation, with the hopes that couples will be more likely to cooperate and try to agree on a positive mutual outcome without the animosity and conflict associated with blame.
The proposals for no-fault divorce are backed by senior judges, policymakers, law professionals, academic research, and almost two-thirds (73%) of the public, according to a 2019 YouGov poll. As members of Resolution, our team of family lawyers at Frances Lindsay & Co is committed to supporting fair and non-adversarial approaches to separation, and we believe that no-fault divorce is the next logical step in helping couples to manage their relationship disputes in a way that minimises the impact on families.
To speak to a family lawyer about separation, divorce, and the existing out-of-court options available, visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk or call us on 01628 634667.