The introduction of ‘No-Fault Divorce’ legislation on the 6th April 2022 brings with it a seismic change in the tone of divorce law in England and Wales.
Since the early 1970s separating spouses have often had no option but to place the blame on one of them for the breakdown of their marriage in order to satisfy the court that their marriage has – well - broken down.
The issue is particularly acute when the separation period is less than two years, thereby removing the option to base the divorce on a non-fault, non-contentious ground.
Apart from adultery, the only option has been for one party to cite the other party's "unreasonable behavior" as the reason for the split, so a back-and-forth usually ensues in which the parties essentially agree on what allegations should be included, resulting in a relatively tame list of allegations.
Both parties usually feel aggrieved; the petitioner often feels they have been the victim of serious ill-treatment, yet feels compelled to tone down their allegations to make them more palatable to the alleged wrongdoer, and the respondent [feels aggrieved] simply because they are on the receiving end of allegations - tame or not.
The result is often acrimony. Given that the more vexing and emotional issues of what should happen with the finances or the children of the parties remain unresolved, any bad feelings from the divorce itself often linger, making these matters trickier to resolve.
The change in the law is therefore sure to be welcomed by clients, giving them an opportunity to agree a divorce without ‘mud-slinging’ and a more positive platform with which to reach agreement with their former loved one on the issues that really matter.
It encourages a generally more positive attitude in looking to the future rather than digging up old ground from a less happier time.
If you wish to know more about No-Fault Divorce, visit www.duttongregory.co.uk/site/personal/family-law/ or call any of our offices.