Is it time to end the blame game?


The concept of ‘no fault’ divorce has been raised for some time and has again become a topical subject through its recent discussion at the Conservative Party Conference.

Back in 2015, the No Fault Divorce Bill was introduced but it was not progressed and to date the law is unchanged. However, calls continue to be made for the divorce process to be modernised and for the idea of “no fault” divorce to become a reality.

Critics of the idea have said it could undermine the institution of marriage by making divorce easier. However Resolution, the organisation that promotes a constructive and non-confrontational approach to family law, believes “no fault” divorce to be an important introduction to today’s society.

Currently in England and Wales, the person seeking a divorce has to establish that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by claiming one of five facts. Three of those require a period of separation of at least two years, or else ‘blame’ has to be apportioned to one party on the fact of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

However, some people do not want to assign blame. Instead they wish to minimise pain and keep the unfortunate process as amicable as possible, especially when children are involved.

Often, couples divorce because they have sadly grown apart. They do not blame the other party and therefore do not want to add hurt to what is already a very difficult time. The fact a couple is divorcing can be traumatic enough without the need to bring blame into the equation, where in reality there is none.

In our experience, “mud-slinging” from the outset of a case can have a negative impact on important discussions regarding financial and child arrangements. This is particularly relevant when the parties need to co-operate for the benefit of their children.

Furthermore, with an under-resourced court system judges are spending considerable time going through divorce forms when they are really needed for other more urgent pressing cases.

In a society where couples are encouraged to resolve their differences outside court – this fault based system certainly seems counterproductive, adding unnecessary complexity, cost and delay.

Jayne Boyd is a specialist matrimonial solicitor with Newcastle law firm Sintons. To speak to her about this or any other matter, contact Jayne on jayne.boyd@sintons.co.uk or 0191 226 3692.


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