No-fault divorce: a better way to divorce

No-fault divorce: a better way to divorce

Posted by
James Harbottle
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No-fault divorce: a better way to divorce

As the reader may already be aware, a new system of no-fault divorce is due to be introduced on the 6th of April.

The system will do away entirely with the idea of having to blame the other party for the breakdown of the marriage, in order to get a divorce. ‘Adultery’ and ‘unreasonable behaviour’ will therefore be things of the past, at least in relation to divorce.

In this post we will look not so much at how the new system will work, but rather at the benefits that it will bring.

The blame game

Roughly half of all divorces under the present system require one party to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage, either because they had committed adultery, or because they had ‘behaved unreasonably’.

And unless you have been separated for at least two years, if you want a divorce you have no choice but to blame your spouse, even if you don’t really want to.

And of course the other party may often feel aggrieved that they are being blamed. They do not believe that the breakdown of the marriage was all their fault, and do not see why they should take the blame.

This in turn can obviously lead to considerable resentment, even animosity, which might sour relations between the parties for years to come (remember, where there are young children the parties may still need to deal with one another for a long time after the divorce).

A better way

Clearly, there may be animosity between the parties before divorce proceedings are commenced. But often there is not, and creating animosity when it is not already there is obviously to be avoided.

And even if there is animosity already, telling the other party that they are to blame for the marriage breakdown is only likely to make a bad situation worse.

When a divorce takes place there are usually very important issues that must be resolved, in relation to arrangements for both children and finances. These issues can be resolved either by agreement or by the court.

But court proceedings can be extremely stressful, expensive and time-consuming. They should therefore be avoided if at all possible.

By far the best way to resolve these issues is by agreement between the parties, possibly with the aid of mediation. But that requires the parties to deal with each other in a reasonable fashion. If there is serious animosity between the parties, then obviously this is less likely, and therefore the chances of settling matters by agreement are reduced.

In short, no-fault divorce, doing away with the unnecessary blame game, is a better way to bring the marriage to an end.

What if you think your spouse is to blame?divorce gone nasty

There will no doubt be many people who will be disappointed that they can no longer blame their spouse for the breakdown of the marriage. Rightly or wrongly, they strongly believe that their spouse was at fault, and that the world, or at least the court, should know that.

This feeling is understandable, but every effort should be made to put it to one side, at least when it comes to sorting out the legal formalities of the divorce.

And it may be tempting for someone to try to ‘punish’ their spouse for causing the marriage breakdown in some other way, for example in relation to arrangements for children and finances.

But the court is not generally interested in the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, which will normally have little or no bearing upon arrangements for children and finances.

That is not of course to say that bad behaviour by one party will never have a bearing upon what the court decides to do. It can, for example, be taken into account if the court thinks it is relevant to the welfare of the children, and obviously the court will be concerned if the behaviour amounts to domestic abuse.

The main way that someone may want their spouse ‘punished’ is by them receiving a less favourable financial settlement. However, conduct is only relevant to finances if it is of a very serious nature. The sort of behaviour that may be seen in a ‘typical’ divorce, including adultery, will have no bearing at all upon the financial settlement.

There is simply nothing to be gained by one party ‘pinning the blame’ for the breakdown of the marriage on their spouse. Taking away that opportunity can only be a good thing.

No-fault divorce will hopefully help more couples to resolve their issues amicably. And that is surely a better way to divorce.

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