The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill it’s had its second reading in the House of Lords last week. The Bill will essentially allow couples to divorce without having to assign the blame on the other.
So, what’s the problem with the current law?
Now, to get divorced, couples are legally required to assign blame for the breakdown of the marriage, unless they’ve lived apart for two years. This inevitably impacts negatively upon agreeing arrangements with the children and resolving any financial disputes.
The majority of couples do not wish or cannot afford to put their lives on hold for 2 years before divorcing, meaning if they wish to divorce in order to plan ahead, for the future and the children, they have no alternative but to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This ultimately ends in a ‘blame game’.
We often hear things like ‘the Wife drinks to excess’ or ‘the Husband does not provide any emotional support’ which can often be construed as unfair and untrue allegations if the other party does not agree. This is despite the Court not making any judgement as to whether such allegations are true.
Assigning the blame inevitably heightens conflict at an already emotionally charged time. Nobody should have to prove fault to be entitled to a divorce and nobody should have to be trapped in an unhappy marriage after it has broken down.
Another major issue is the use of fault often triggers parental conflict which impacts negatively on the children of the family.
How will the Divorce Bill fix it?
There is no getting away from the fact that divorce is rarely easy. However, the wealth of empirical evidence suggests the current law causes too much conflict.
The Bill aims to make divorce law kinder, not easier, something that is welcomed by family practitioners.
Family law goes to the heart of how we see each other as human beings and having to rely on allegations to be entitled to a divorce is undoubtedly detrimental to the ability to stay amicable with one another and co-parent children without animosity after separating.
There is an overwhelming support for the Bill and hopefully, it will bring divorce law back into the 21st Century (as it has remained unaltered for 50 years!) and encourage a much more amicable separation for couples.