Under current English law, even if both parties agree that their marriage has broken down, unless and until they have been separated for 2 years, they cannot get divorced without one party being blamed.
The reasons for the breakdown of a marriage are usually complex and it is not uncommon for both parties to have quite different views regarding the cause of the difficulties that have arisen. When emotions are already running high, the law, which requires reliance upon either adultery or unreasonable behaviour (unless parties are willing to wait 2 years) is only likely to add fuel to the fire.
Forcing couples to blame each other when there is no real need to do so, can create unnecessary conflict which can, in turn, affect how the couple deal with the related arrangements that must be made in respect of any children and regarding financial matters.
Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals who believe in a constructive and non-confrontational approach to family law matters, is currently campaigning for a change in the law that would allow couples to divorce without blame.
The need for reform has to a great extent been highlighted by the recent case of Owens v Owens in which a wife has been denied a divorce because the Court determined that her husband’s behaviour was insufficient to justify the granting of a divorce decree. A decision of the Supreme Court is still awaited and will turn upon the interpretation of the relevant section of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Whatever the outcome, the case highlights the need for change.
Resolution is proposing a new “no-fault” process allowing one or both parties to give notice that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The divorce can then be progressed and if after a period of 6 months, either or both remain of the view that the marriage is over, the divorce can be finalised without any blame being assigned to either party.
Our family solicitors at North Ainley are accredited Resolution members and can advise and assist you with divorce proceedings and all other issues that can arise following the breakdown of a relationship.