No-fault divorce, one yr on

It’s one yr since we welcomed the arrival of no-fault divorce in England and Wales (sixth April 2022).

As the largest change to divorce regulation for many years, the appearance of the no-fault course of remodeled divorce, separation, and civil partnership dissolution by eradicating the authorized requirement for blame.

For the previous yr, {couples} have been capable of file for divorce with out accepting fault or assigning blame to their accomplice, and with out fabricating a cause the place they don’t naturally match into the 5 beforehand accepted grounds for divorce.

No-fault divorce additionally eliminated the power to contest a divorce.

What was it prefer to divorce earlier than no-fault divorce?

Beforehand, regardless of the explanations for divorce or the private circumstances of a pair, there was a authorized requirement to attribute blame to just one occasion, in the event that they wished to divorce in lower than two years.

The 5 causes, or grounds, for divorce included unreasonable behaviour, adultery, separation after two years with consent, separation after 5 years with out consent, or desertion.

Why was no-fault divorce was launched?

Having to distil occasions into one crystallised cause and assign blame to just one occasion was unproductive for separating {couples} at finest and regularly destroyed what was left of the connection.

As a substitute of battle and stress, no-fault divorce paved the best way for amicable collaboration, easing negotiations and lowering the general psychological well being impression of divorce. It signifies that events can discover a method to transfer ahead whereas specializing in the vital points, corresponding to kids, funds, and property.

As well as, eradicating the power to contest a divorce eliminated potential boundaries for victim-survivors of home abuse, and people trapped in controlling relationships.

Has no-fault divorce prompted a rise in divorce functions?

Initially, there was an inflow of individuals beginning the divorce course of, however this was primarily individuals who had held again from beginning till the brand new system was launched, because it allowed a extra amicable strategy.

And whereas enquiries for divorce have been rising exponentially, and up to date statistics revealed that divorce functions have risen to the best degree in a decade, that is prone to be resulting from a wide range of completely different causes, together with the Covid-19 pandemic, which put big strain on relationships, the ever deeper value of dwelling disaster, and the growing ease of a DIY divorce. 

DIY divorce / kitchen settlements

No-fault divorce has performed a task in altering the context through which {couples} select to undergo divorce. Anecdotally, increasingly more individuals are turning to DIY divorce and ‘kitchen desk settlements’ (the place the couple sits on the desk to resolve the ins-and-outs of the separation) to make their breakup official.

Nevertheless, it is vital that {couples} take authorized and monetary recommendation to grasp the complete impression of the settlement, particularly relating to their long-term wants. 

One of the crucial frequent potential pitfalls of a DIY divorce, the place individuals haven’t sought authorized, pension or monetary recommendation, is selections across the household dwelling and the division of pensions. 

Within the second, a bigger share of the household dwelling in change for disregarding a pension share can look like a great final result, offering quick safety. Nevertheless, pensions have long-term advantages, typically with monetary uplifts or bonuses, making them extra precious than they appear on paper.

Not getting complete recommendation on this space may imply individuals make ill-informed selections, and probably discover themselves in a way more susceptible monetary place upon retirement. 

Reflections on no-fault divorce one yr on

No-fault divorce has eliminated the ‘blame’ ingredient of the method. Blame in a divorce achieved little or no and distracted individuals from tackling the problems that matter. Usually, purchasers would discover it laborious to detach blame from their pondering when contemplating what a good divorce settlement ought to appear to be. 

Now, that removing of blame has helped make issues much less confrontational between {couples}, making it simpler to succeed in agreements amicably and with out the necessity for the household courtroom. 

In some instances, we now have additionally seen that the process of reaching an settlement amicably has decreased the extent of negotiation wanted, saving time and prices, nevertheless it does nonetheless rely on the components of the case and complexity of the belongings.  

Nevertheless, whereas no-fault divorce is a step ahead that’s massively benefited many, we now have seen an sudden damaging impression on some {couples} going by means of the method.

No-fault divorce has eliminated the typically cathartic and comprehensible need in charge. This has left some individuals annoyed. For instance, if one occasion information for divorce following their accomplice’s infidelity, there isn’t any longer a proper acknowledgement of their ex-partner’s misconduct or a method to maintain them accountable for his or her actions. Whether or not divorce is a results of critical and sustained wrongdoing, or just the results of rising aside, the divorce course of is identical.

Now, with no-fault divorce, it’s not important to share the explanation for the marital breakdown. Nevertheless, as household legal professionals we typically see that as a result of this emotional line hasn’t been drawn on the outset, it might probably muddy the waters later within the divorce journey. With out an official vent, suppressed frustration about the reason for the divorce can happen. For a lot of, tensions begin operating excessive later within the proceedings, creating additional animosity and lengthier arguments over the sensible components of the divorce, corresponding to dividing up belongings and agreeing baby preparations.

We should do not forget that most individuals going by means of a divorce are issues by means of an emotional lens, reasonably than from a purely rational perspective. So, whereas no-fault divorce has definitely been a welcome change that has helped many {couples} to separate amicably, there’s a flip aspect that needs to be acknowledged to assist mitigate animosity additional down the road.

Helpful hyperlinks

No-fault divorce has arrived

The no-fault divorce course of

An entire information to no-fault divorce

How no-fault divorce impacted victims of home abuse