September 26, 2023

It’s one yr since we welcomed the arrival of no-fault divorce in England and Wales (sixth April 2022).

As the largest change to divorce regulation for many years, the arrival of the no-fault course of reworked divorce, separation, and civil partnership dissolution by eradicating the authorized requirement for blame.

For the previous yr, {couples} have been capable of file for divorce with out accepting fault or assigning blame to their accomplice, and with out fabricating a purpose the place they don’t naturally match into the 5 beforehand accepted grounds for divorce.

No-fault divorce additionally eliminated the power to contest a divorce.

What was it prefer to divorce earlier than no-fault divorce?

Beforehand, no matter the explanations for divorce or the private circumstances of a pair, there was a authorized requirement to attribute blame to just one social gathering, in the event that they wished to divorce in lower than two years.

The 5 causes, or grounds, for divorce included unreasonable behaviour, adultery, separation after two years with consent, separation after 5 years with out consent, or desertion.

Why was no-fault divorce was launched?

Having to distil occasions into one crystallised purpose and assign blame to just one social gathering was unproductive for separating {couples} at finest and often destroyed what was left of the connection.

As a substitute of battle and stress, no-fault divorce paved the best way for amicable collaboration, easing negotiations and lowering the general psychological well being influence of divorce. It signifies that events can discover a technique to transfer ahead whereas specializing in the essential points, similar to kids, funds, and property.

As well as, eradicating the power to contest a divorce eliminated potential boundaries for victim-survivors of home abuse, and people trapped in controlling relationships.

Has no-fault divorce triggered a rise in divorce purposes?

Initially, there was an inflow of individuals beginning the divorce course of, however this was primarily individuals who had held again from beginning till the brand new system was launched, because it allowed a extra amicable strategy.

And whereas enquiries for divorce have been rising exponentially, and up to date statistics revealed that divorce purposes have risen to the very best degree in a decade, that is more likely to be on account of quite a lot of completely different causes, together with the Covid-19 pandemic, which put large stress on relationships, the ever deeper price of residing disaster, and the growing ease of a DIY divorce. 

DIY divorce / kitchen settlements

No-fault divorce has performed a task in altering the context during which {couples} select to undergo divorce. Anecdotally, an increasing number of individuals are turning to DIY divorce and ‘kitchen desk settlements’ (the place the couple sits on the desk to determine the ins-and-outs of the separation) to make their breakup official.

Nonetheless, it is necessary that {couples} take authorized and monetary recommendation to grasp the complete influence of the settlement, particularly concerning their long-term wants. 

One of the vital widespread potential pitfalls of a DIY divorce, the place folks haven’t sought authorized, pension or monetary recommendation, is selections across the household house and the division of pensions. 

Within the second, a bigger share of the household house in change for disregarding a pension share can seem to be a superb consequence, offering instant safety. Nonetheless, pensions have long-term advantages, generally with monetary uplifts or bonuses, making them extra beneficial than they appear on paper.

Not getting complete recommendation on this space may imply folks make ill-informed selections, and doubtlessly discover themselves in a way more susceptible monetary place upon retirement. 

Reflections on no-fault divorce one yr on

No-fault divorce has eliminated the ‘blame’ ingredient of the method. Blame in a divorce achieved little or no and distracted folks from tackling the problems that matter. Usually, shoppers would discover it exhausting to detach blame from their pondering when contemplating what a good divorce settlement ought to seem like. 

Now, that elimination of blame has helped make issues much less confrontational between {couples}, making it simpler to achieve agreements amicably and with out the necessity for the household courtroom. 

In some instances, we’ve additionally seen that the process of reaching an settlement amicably has lowered the extent of negotiation wanted, saving time and prices, but it surely does nonetheless depend upon the components of the case and complexity of the property.  

Nonetheless, whereas no-fault divorce is a step ahead that’s vastly benefited many, we’ve seen an surprising unfavorable influence on some {couples} going by way of the method.

No-fault divorce has eliminated the generally cathartic and comprehensible need in charge. This has left some folks pissed off. For instance, if one social gathering information for divorce following their accomplice’s infidelity, there is no such thing as a longer a proper acknowledgement of their ex-partner’s misconduct or a technique to maintain them accountable for his or her actions. Whether or not divorce is a results of severe and sustained wrongdoing, or just the results of rising aside, the divorce course of is similar.

Now, with no-fault divorce, it’s not important to share the rationale for the marital breakdown. Nonetheless, as household attorneys we generally see that as a result of this emotional line hasn’t been drawn on the outset, it may well muddy the waters later within the divorce journey. With out an official vent, suppressed frustration about the reason for the divorce can happen. For a lot of, tensions begin operating excessive later within the proceedings, creating additional animosity and lengthier arguments over the sensible components of the divorce, similar to dividing up property and agreeing baby preparations.

We should keep in mind that most individuals going by way of a divorce are taking a look at issues by way of an emotional lens, reasonably than from a purely rational perspective. So, whereas no-fault divorce has definitely been a welcome change that has helped many {couples} to separate amicably, there’s a flip aspect that needs to be acknowledged to assist mitigate animosity additional down the road.

Helpful hyperlinks

No-fault divorce has arrived

The no-fault divorce course of

A whole information to no-fault divorce

How no-fault divorce impacted victims of home abuse