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MP says couples should be allowed to apply for 'no fault divorce'

View profile for Steven Payne
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On Tuesday 13th October a controversial amendment to Family Law was proposed in the House of Commons by Richard Bacon, the South Norfolk MP.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "I propose one simple amendment to the law - the option of divorce without blame - where a petitioner who wished to do so, rather than offering the court one of the five facts currently required of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion etc., could instead satisfy a court a marriage had broken down irretrievably with a sixth fact."

As the Law currently stands, in order to divorce the courts must be satisfied that there is evidence of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, both of which have a blame element without waiting for 2 years to elapse from the date of separation. The "no fault" divorce would instead involve the couple both signing a declaration that there had been an irretrievable breakdown of marriage, but not attributing it to either individual. 

This idea has received a mixed response with some commenting that divorce should not be made any easier. Mr Bacon counteracted this point by saying that a so-called "quickie divorce" allowing a couple to separate in five months already exists and in fact his new proposal may seek to make the process longer, but most importantly less antagonistic. Mr Bacon also acknowledged that divorce is a "tragedy" but that his bill would enable a couple to separate without "throwing mud" at each other.

Others have commented that this would enable a split to be much more amicable and that this can only be a benefit in such a situation where the needs of children need to be put first and where parents still remaining on good terms is clearly so important.

Ultimately, the first reading of Mr Bacon's No Fault Divorce Bill was passed by MPs in the face of hostility from his own party, with particular opposition from Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough. It remains to be seen whether or not it will make it onto the Statute Book.

If you are going through a separation, or know someone who is we are here to help and can provide advice and assurance so that you and your family can move forward. We offer a free half hour assessment. Our lawyers Steven Payne can be contacted on 01245 228106 and at paynes@gepp.co.uk and Sarah Overy on 01245 228132 and at overys@gepp.co.uk or via our website mail@gepp.co.uk

The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.