An End to the Blame Game?


June 17th


Couple During Divorce Mediation

A bill to introduce ‘no-fault’ divorces in England and Wales has been backed by MPs and is now awaiting royal assent before it becomes legislation. It has been hailed as the most significant divorce law reform in half a century by some. Here at Bendles Solicitors our Family Law Specialists remain unconvinced that this new legal concept will do much to revolutionise such an emotive process.

Elanor Findlay, our highly experienced Family Law solicitor, gives her thoughts:

Under The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill or what’s being referred to as the ‘no-fault’ divorce bill, a spouse will simply have to claim that their marriage has irrevocably broken down rather than apportioning blame or ‘fault’ on their spouse.

The bill will also mean that spouses will not be able to contest the choice to divorce. However, divorces will still be contestable on grounds such as coercion and fraud. In addition, the bill will introduce a six-month minimum period that must pass between the divorce proceedings starting to the divorce being finalised.

The ultimate purpose of the new legislation is to reduce tensions and cut a degree of the conflict from what can be a very stressful experience. It offers a solution to the increasing number of couples we assist who wait to be granted a divorce on the grounds of either a two- or five-year separation rather than attribute blame.

Whilst welcoming this addition to the existing legislation, my colleagues and I view it as exactly that, a nice addition perhaps, but revolutionary? We doubt it.

Having assisted with divorces of all shapes and sizes for decades our experienced team know that often the divorce procedure itself can be the most straight forward part. There are other, more sensitive aspects which will remain highly contentious if your solicitor is not capable of minimising the heat.

The nitty gritty aspects, where tensions can run high are usually reached when discussions regarding childcare agreements and the division of finances begin. The ‘no-fault’ bill offers no solution to this potentially contentious stage in proceedings, but sound legal advice and support can make all the difference here.

It’s important that the ‘no-fault’ bill doesn’t create unrealistic expectations for couples hoping to end their marriage amicably, the onus remains on the individuals and their solicitors to minimise tension.

Even couples who use the bill to end thing harmoniously should not be tempted to do so without the support of a trained solicitor. It is important that professional advice is still sought to safe-guard financial assets and ensure tax legislation is followed correctly.

What has been interesting is the government’s timing of moving this long-awaited bill through parliament. Lockdown will have done nothing to help already fractious marriages and we expect to hear from those who have used the time in isolation to decide their marriage has sadly come to an end. The no-fault bill will hopefully make for a speedier and less painful initial stage to divorce proceedings and this in turn will set the tone for less acrimonious proceedings throughout.

Our Family Law team are here to guide you through getting a divorce and will keep life as stress-free as possible no matter the reason for separation. We are here to present your best options and represent your best interests.

Elanor specialises in dealing with all aspects of family law. Elanor advises clients in relation to divorce, civil partnership dissolutions, financial disputes, cohabitation disputes, pre and post nuptial agreements and injunctive relief. For a confidential initial conversation with a Family Law Specialists, call Bendles Solicitors on tel: 01228 522215 or email: info@bendlessolicitors.co.uk

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