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Commons Library publishes briefing paper on no fault divorce

Date:30 SEP 2016
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Journals Manager + Online Editor
The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper considering the current basis for divorce and arguments for and against the introduction of no fault divorce.

The briefing paper covers the current basis for divorce in England and Wales, the proposed (and repealed) changes to Part 2 of the Family Law Act 1996, whether or not no fault divorce should be introduced - looking particularly at support from some senior members of the judiciary, the Family Mediation Taskforce, Resolution and Richard Bacon's ten minute rule Bill - as well as other developments and research related to divorce.

Research carried out by Resolution in June 2015 found that over half of all divorce petitions were fault-based (citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery), presumably filed by people who didn't wish to wait 2 years or more to get divorced, or whose other half didn't consent to the divorce. Of those petitions, 27% said that the fault alleged wasn't true but was the easiest option.

Earlier this year, Nigel Shepherd, chair of Resolution, used his first speech in the role to issue a rallying cry for family lawyers to continue to call for no fault divorce. He said:

'It's wrong - and actually bordering on cruel - to say to couples: if you want to move on with your lives ... one of you has to blame the other. The blame game needs to end, and it needs to end now. We will continue to make the case to government, supported by charities, the judiciary and the many others who support no fault divorce.'

No fault divorce is generally regarded as reducing the conflict which can be caused by allegations of fault. 

Arguments against the introduction of no fault divorce include that the institution of marriage should be supported; the risk of the divorce rate increasing if it is perceived to be easier to get a divorce; and the negative impact of family breakdown.

New research exploring how the current law on the ground for divorce and civil partnership dissolution operates in practice is currently being undertaken by Liz Trinder of Exeter University.

For more details visit her Finding Fault website and read her recently published article, 'In anticipation of a temporary blip: Would a change in the divorce law increase the divorce rate?', in which she analyses the existing research on whether divorce law reform has any impact on the numbers divorcing.

The House of Commons No fault divorce briefing paper is available to download here.
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