No-fault divorces will become law in England and Wales on Wednesday, 17 years after Scotland introduced the practice.
Before this week, dissolving a marriage had to be justified in one of five ways: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation, five years’ separation, and abandonment/desertion.
According to the Office for National Statistics, by far the most frequently cited was “unreasonable behaviour”.
Alex Carruthers commented:
“This is a huge leap towards a more civilised and amicable divorce process, ending the requirement to prove nasty allegations of behaviour. It is a relief to virtually the entire legal profession who believe that the previously antiquated divorce process caused unnecessary acrimony for separating couples and their families”.
“It has taken decades since the last unworkable no-fault divorce law for the Government to accept the need for further reform. This will save 65,000 or more divorcing couples each year from having to prove fault to get a divorce. This means people won’t waste money on an argument that has no bearing on anything other than why the marriage broke down.”
In relation to what “unreasonable behaviour” could cover, Alex commented:
“Almost anything. Most lawyers have a menu of suggestions: he doesn’t show me affection, she doesn’t like my friends, he doesn’t support my career or hobbies. Spitting on the street is enough unreasonable behaviour to justify ending the relationship. The reality is that the judges think the bar is so low that it becomes a pantomime.”
Read Alex’s comments in The Telegraph and The Legal Diary.