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No fault divorce – the debate rumbles on

The thorny issue of whether or not 'no fault' divorce should be introduced both in England and Wales and in Scotland has again been explored in a recently published briefing paper for Members of Parliament.

Published by The House of Commons Library, the 18-page paper considers the current basis for divorce and the arguments for and against no-fault divorce as well as details of ongoing research.

Forced to blame

The issue remains a sensitive and highly contentious one. Research carried out by Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, found that over half of all divorce petitions were fault-based (citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery).

Of these petitions, 27 per cent said the alleged fault was not actually true but the easiest option, presumably because they didn't want to wait two years or more to get divorced.

Cruel

Nigel Shepherd, chair of Resolution, said: "It's wrong, and actually bordering on cruel, to say to couples - if you want to move on with your lives, one of you has to blame the other. The blame game needs to end, and it needs to end now. We will continue to make the case to government, supported by charities, the judiciary and the many others who support no fault divorce."

  • Last year, Norfolk Conservative MP Richard Bacon, introduced a No Fault Divorce Bill to amend existing marriage and partnership law, making changes to both the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004. Its aim was to introduce an option to divorce through the written consent of both parties, with no requirement to attribute fault.
  • The Bill had its first reading in October 2015 but has now faltered with its second reading postponed. It is unlikely to become law any time soon.

To read the full House of Commons briefing paper follow this link