Following its first hearing in the House of Commons on 13th October 2015, the No Fault Divorce Bill is to have its second hearing on Friday 22nd January.
What is the law at the moment?
The current law, passed in 1969, brought in a single ground for divorce: that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.
The person applying for divorce has to prove this through one of five ‘facts’:
- Their spouse has committed adultery, and the person applying for the divorce finds it intolerable to live with them
- Their spouse has behaved in such a way that they cannot reasonably be expected to live with them
- Their spouse has deserted them for two years
- The parties have lived apart for the past two years and both consent to the divorce, or
- The parties have lived apart for the past five years.
What is the No Fault Divorce Bill?
Richard Bacon MP’s proposed No Fault Divorce Bill would do away with the need for parties to prove that their spouse was at fault for their marriage breakdown.
As he explained, the Bill would add a sixth ‘fact’ to:
“…make provision for the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership when each party has separately made a declaration that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down without a requirement by either party to satisfy the Court of any other facts; and for connected purposes.
It’s interesting to note that, according to recent research published by Resolution, fault-based divorces are ‘driving over a quarter of divorcing couples in England and Wales to make false allegations to the court.’
The research found that:
- 52% of divorce petitions were fault-based alleging either unreasonable behaviour or adultery
- 27% of divorcing couples who asserted blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegation of fault wasn’t true, but was the easiest option
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