No fault divorce is one step closer!

The Government has announced divorce is shortly to be made easier with couples no longer having to apportion blame to bring their marriage to an end.

At the moment couples wishing to divorce straightaway have to rely on the fault based facts of adultery, unreasonable behaviour. The only alternative is to wait a period of two or five years from the date a couple separate.

The change being proposed will mean couples can divorce simply by making a statement that the marriage has broken down. Campaigners for this change believe it will help reduce acrimony and enable couples to divide their assets and make arrangements for their children more amicably. Whilst this may be true of those couples who both want a divorce, a no fault divorce will not be without difficulties. If anyone, at any time, can opt out of their marriage vows, what will this say about marriage itself? Critics are suggesting a no fault divorce trivialises marriage and may result in couples rushing to divorce too quickly with the result being more family break-ups. It is also worth noting countries such as Australia, who already have no fault divorce, have not reported any reduction in acrimony.

Is it a step in the right direction? As with most changes to the law, time will tell. In the meantime, what we can be sure of is that those couples who want to divorce amicably can already choose to do so, whether for the sake of their children or otherwise.

Lisa Collins is a Partner at Birkett Long LLP in Chelmsford, Essex.

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