he concept of a ‘no fault’ divorce might be a step closer to becoming a reality following the first reading of a bill to amend the existing divorce laws passed through the House of Commons. Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, proposed a change in the law to allow couples to pursue the option of divorce without blame. Currently, the spouse petitioning for a divorce must base their case on one of five reasons – including adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion – known as ‘grounds’.
Despite fierce opposition from some corners, Mr Bacon reasons that the current law where one party has to allege fault or wait for two years on a no fault petition with the others consent , gives rise to feelings of blame, or as he puts it, ends up with couples ‘throwing mud at each other’.
Here at Collaborative Law Manchester, Mr Bacon’s proposals make a great deal of sense. Starting the process of divorce by apportioning blame, as is encouraged by the current need to cite ‘grounds’, creates tension from the off. Allowing a couple to start from a neutral position of agreement that the relationship had broken down would certainly make it easier for the parties to enter civilised discussions around matrimonial assets, their children and any ongoing financial support.
As advocates of discussion-based divorce negotiations through the Collaborative process as opposed to acrimonious court battles, anything that can reduce the causes of conflict during a divorce can only be a good thing.