Must We Apportion Blame As Part Of Our Divorce?
- AuthorAngela Killa
"My husband and I have decided to split. We have no children and we want to keep things amicable. Must we apportion blame for our marriage breakdown?"
MPs have approved a no-fault divorce ruling – a change to the law designed to take some heat out of the Divorce process. However, couples seeking a no-fault divorce will now have to wait until 2022 before the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is likely to take effect. Legal bodies have been campaigning for decades for the change to be implemented to update what many see as an outmoded legal stance, which sees couple having to prove the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage before they can divorce.
The change will enable couples to petition for divorce jointly rather than being forced to apportion blame. The introduction of a new minimum time-frame of six months – from petition to the marriage being ended - means this change is not likely to lead to quickie divorces, as some critics have feared. The new laws will also prevent people refusing a divorce if their spouse wants one.
However, as the law stands at the moment, the only grounds for divorce is irretrievable breakdown, and our laws require proof that the marriage is at an end by citing one of five facts:
- Two years of separation. However, you will need your husband to agree and sign a specific document to confirm this
- Five years of separation. In this case you do not need your husband’s agreement
- Two years of desertion. This does not require agreement
- Adultery. This does not require consent, but it is difficult to prove, so it usually requires an admission of adultery or agreement from the other party
- Unreasonable behaviour. This does not require agreement, but, of course, unreasonable behaviour is subjective
Clearly, if a couple can reach agreement the divorce process will be simpler and less costly. However, divorce can be very stressful and it is important to seek tailored legal advice in relation to the Divorce and the financial aspects of marital breakdown.
The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.