Divorce: The End of the Blame Game?

Karen Beevers, Partner, Collaborative Family Solicitors & Family Mediator

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

As specialist family lawyers we have long been supporting a change in divorce law to stop the need for separating couples having to assign blame to each other within divorce proceedings at a time when they are often struggling emotionally, and seeking to resolve financial issues, as well as arrangements for their children.

Under current divorce law, where couples are seeking to divorce within the first two years of separation, they are forced to prove their marriage has irretrievably broken down by relying on either adultery, or citing the behaviour of their spouse as being unreasonable to the extent they cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.

Picture this. The couple have been working amicably in either mediation, the collaborative process or otherwise to reach a resolution on all issues arising from their separation. Having been able to work and reach consensus on significant issues, such as the future of the family home and the proposed time the children will spend with each of them, they are then faced with the scenario where they are having to allocate blame as to the fault behind the marriage breakdown.

How can this be consistent with encouraging people to deal with matters as amicably as possible and to reduce acrimony in the interests of their children?

It appears the recent Supreme Court case of Mrs. Owens and the publicity surrounding it has thrown the issue right into the spotlight, and helped the campaign for “No Fault” Divorce gather momentum. Having been married for 40 years, she sought to divorce her husband on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour on the grounds that she was unhappy and that it was a loveless marriage. The divorce was opposed by Mr. Owens, and whilst the court had great sympathy with Mrs. Owens, the law as it stands was clear and her appeal rejected, leaving her in a most unfortunate position until at least 2020.

The announcement the Government is to launch Consultation on introducing “no -fault” divorces is most welcome. If it enable couples to separate with less acrimony and quicker, this in turn can only benefit people emotionally and in particular where children are involved.

Here’s hoping a landmark moment on the road to “no-fault” based divorce has been reached.

For further information please contact Karen Beevers by email at karenbeevers@evansderry.com, or by telephone on 01675 464 400