Can I obtain a ‘no fault divorce’
There can be many reasons for a marriage to breakdown, however not every marriage breakdown is acrimonious and some couples decide mutually to get divorced without attributing the responsibility for the breakdown to either party. Placing blame on one party as the cause of the marital breakdown can make deciding to get a divorce particularly difficult.
At present, it is not possible to obtain a “no fault divorce” within the UK. There is only one legal ground for divorce “the marriage has broken down irretrievably”. A person can petition for a divorce after one year of marriage and the facts they can rely upon are “Adultery” or allegations of “unreasonable behaviour” against a spouse. The alternative is waiting between 2 or 5 years before being able to issue for a divorce based upon separation for the same length of time.
The recent case of Owens -v- Owens highlights the need for a ‘no fault divorce’. In this case the court dismissed the wife’s petition, which was based upon allegations of unreasonable behaviour against her husband. Her allegations of unreasonable behaviour were described as “exaggerated” and “of a kind to be expected in a marriage”. This case has now been referred to the Court of Appeal.
This case demonstrates the need to change our family legal system and establish a divorce that allows for no blame to be attributed to either party. If a marriage has broken down many couples feel they should be allowed to end the marriage without having to make allegations against a spouse or wait 2 or 5 years respectively. There is a growing support in the UK for a ‘no fault divorce’.
If you have been affected by any of these issues or require further advice then please contact Pavinder Khela an experienced family solicitor at Hegarty Solicitors based in Stamford on 01780 752066 or email pavinder.Khela@hegarty.co.uk.