No fault divorce

March 8, 2017 by Fiona Ryans


All divorces in England and Wales proceed on the basis the marriage has irretrievably broken down. At present couples have to prove one of five facts. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years separation with consent, desertion or five years separation without consent.  In the vast majority of cases parties haven’t been apart long enough for any of the separation options to apply so most divorces proceed on the grounds of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.  However research by Resolution (an umbrella organisation of family lawyers) carried out by YouGov in June 2015 found that 27% of couples who divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery admitted the allegation of fault was not true but it was the easiest option. In other words people are lying to get divorced quickly.

Inevitably the fault based divorce system just increases the animosity between parties during divorce.  The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 114,720 people divorced in England and Wales in 2013 so clearly a fault based system does not act as a deterrent to divorce and nor does it help couples salvage their marriage

The No Fault Divorce is still not available to all as standard. The intention should be to remove the blame from divorce. This would help couples to conclude their relationship in a dignified manner and move on without the need for accusations, many of which are apparently untrue.

It is a change which is welcomed by the majority of family lawyers particularly when dealing with  cases where parties want to resolve matters as swiftly and as amicably as possible. The current model does not sit comfortably with this situation at all.

Fiona Ryans