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‘No fault’ divorce legislation needed now warns lawyers

27th November 2017

Acrimonious separations increase family stress and legal costs

Leading divorce lawyer firm Moore Blatch is calling for legislation that will allow ‘No fault divorces’ as it would mean many divorces have a more harmonious outcome, something that is critically important where children are involved.  In addition it could dramatically cut legal fees.

Moore Blatch wants to see laws passed that allow for divorce without blame, often called no fault divorce.

Currently, under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, a marriage must have broken down ‘irretrievably’ for the divorce to be granted, in that a divorcing partner would usually have to satisfy the court of one or more of five reasons.

Critically, under current legislation, the most favoured option to demonstrate 'irretrievably' is a claim of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This requires one of the divorcing parties to detail circa six examples of this behaviour.  Otherwise the parties have to wait two years with both parties consenting, or five years if only one party consents.

The divorce lawyers warn that, while this is often the easiest option, it can also prove to be the most destructive as it relies on an initial blame, which then creates increased animosity and results in longer, more bitter and, ultimately, more expensive divorces which can be exceptionally harmful where children are involved.

If the divorce escalates into a full on fight, as a result of increased animosity due to the initial ‘blame’ element, legal fees could rise considerably as both parties are inclined to argue over all the details. Moore Blatch estimates that, if the new Bill is successfully passed, many more cases could be settled quicker and at a much lower cost.

Debra Emery, divorce law partner at Moore Blatch, said: “Currently, most people choose to cite unreasonable behaviour for their divorce as the alternative is adultery, or that they have been separated continuously for two years.  However, whilst quicker, a claim of unreasonable behaviour often creates significant animosity which in turn, damages any future relationship and can very negatively impact on any children. Additionally, legal costs would be dramatically reduced if a more harmonious environment were engendered, as would be the case under a no fault divorce. For this reason, we would welcome any measures that could fast track no fault divorce becoming law.”

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