Top Judge Calls For No-Blame Divorces

One of Britain’s most senior judges has called for the introduction of no-fault divorces.

Deputy President of the Supreme Court Baroness Hale believes the apportioning of blame can create conflict and tension, making it harder for couples to reach an agreement.

Under current laws, divorcing couples who have not been living separately for more than two years must rely on either adultery or unreasonable behaviour to prove a marriage has irretrievably broken down so as to obtain a divorce.

Baroness Hale also wishes to see a one-year “cooling off” period following a separation, during which arrangements would be made for childcare, property and finance. The divorce would be granted after these issues have been resolved, rather than before.

Many experts believe divorce is one of the most emotional and stressful events in a person’s life and can be worsened by the forced apportion of blame. The increased tension can also increase stress caused to any children involved.

Family law experts have supported the calls for change, including the family charity Resolution, which called for the removal of blame from divorce in their Family Law Manifesto earlier this year.

Adultery or unreasonable behaviour was cited in 72,000 divorces in 2012. Resolution believes blame results in an undignified end to a relationship and highlights the fact that many marriages come to a natural end without either party being at fault.

Resolution also believes no-fault divorces would increase the success of alternatives to court, such as mediation and collaborative law, and highlights a study which shows the attribution of blame during a divorce can actually undermine a couple’s attempts at resolving disputes out of court.

Macks Solicitors acknowledges the need for no fault based divorce. When couples separate one person does not have to be at fault, and we have dealt with cases where the parties have simply drifted apart and wish to move on with their lives.  We agree with Baroness Hale that apportioning blame to one party in divorce proceedings creates unnecessary conflict and undermines the process of resolving other outstanding issues. At Macks we fully support the Resolution Manifesto and their calls for change.

The family team at Macks Solicitors are committed to resolving all issues that arise when a relationship breaks down in an amicable and constructive way. We will always advise on all options, including mediation and collaborative law, and wherever possible will resolve family disputes outside court.

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