November has seen an unprecedented and for many living in the USA, rather surprising results following the recent election. Whilst opinions are divided as to the outcome of that process, there is one thing that unites each state and that is a no blame divorce procedure.
Divorcing couples in America are able to cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the breakdown of their marriage. This allows them to divorce without blame which ultimately protects themselves and their children from a mud-slinging match so soon after separation. It is well known that celebrities who experience acrimonious divorces behind closed doors publically cite irreconcilable differences such is the desire for private matters to remain private.
Conversely, divorcing couples in England and Wales must apportion blame on their spouse for either adultery or unreasonable behaviour unless they’ve lived separate and apart for at least 2 years preceding the date of the divorce petition. This is wholly unsatisfactory especially as 8 times out of 10 our clients have no desire to “blame” their spouse but have to in order to progress the divorce, absent a period of separation.
Removing the blame
Removing the need to blame a husband or wife will help reduce the conflict and stress at what is already an emotional time for them and their children and has many benefits. It would allow couples to focus on resolving practical financial and/or childcare matters more amicably if they’re on an equal footing in the divorce. Since the courts readily encourage couples to reach their own decisions in non-court dispute resolution processes such as mediation or collaborative meetings, it is entirely counterproductive that the blame culture within divorce can and often will hinder the effectiveness of those processes.
Proposal of a new divorce procedure
On Wednesday 30th November, over 150 family lawyers and members of Resolution (an association committed to supporting family lawyers in constructive resolution of family disputes) will lobby their MP’s in Parliament to press for a no blame divorce. Resolution proposes a new divorce procedure, where one or both partners can give notice that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The divorce can then proceed and, after a period of six months, if either or both partners still think they are making the right decision, the divorce is finalised.
Uniting our voices to demand no blame divorce is indicative of the strength of feeling and how the current divorce rules (made in 1973) are well and truly out of step with current awareness.
If you would like to discuss this issue in more detail or would like to consider your legal options with our family solicitors in Bournemouth please contact Lindsay Halliwell on 01202 294566 or [email protected].
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