As things currently stand in England and Wales, the law requires you to establish grounds for a divorce.

This means you are required to show your marriage has broken down irretrievably by proving one of either adultery; unreasonable behaviour; desertion; 2 years’ separation with consent; or 5 years’ separation without consent.

Similar legal requirements exist for the dissolution of a civil partnership, save that there is no provision for adultery. This is because the law provides that the adultery must be committed between two people of the opposite sex. It is not therefore possible to constitute adultery for dissolution (or indeed divorce) purposes if it was with someone of the same sex.

For over 30 years Resolution, the leading family law body in England and Wales, has been campaigning for no-fault divorce for a very simple but fundamental reason; the current divorce laws can cause acrimony between former partners from the outset of proceedings by essentially putting one party at “fault”.

In some cases, the couple may simply have fallen out of love with each other. For others, the reasons for divorce could be attributable to both people, and so having one person to “blame” may introduce conflict where it should be avoided if possible.

For these reasons, many family law professionals feel that the current law is outdated and in need of reform and have therefore welcomed the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which removes this concept of fault. The Bill passed its second reading debate in parliament on Monday 8th June and will now be considered in detail at committee stage.

If this Bill were to become law, it would see the “five facts” being replaced with a new requirement to provide a statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Amongst other things, the Bill will also introduce the option to put forward a joint application. These changes would also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.

For now, we do not have a definitive date when we can expect that this law might be passed, but it is nevertheless a positive step towards reform of the current law.

Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is still possible to issue a divorce/dissolution petition. At Parker Bullen LLP, we are committed to providing high client service standards. We fully appreciate that every family situation is different and needs to be dealt with according to what is suitable for the individuals involved.

We offer a free initial, no-obligation consultation if you wanted to discuss your matter with one of our lawyers. Please call us on 01722 412000 (Salisbury) or 01264 400500 (Andover).

Our contributor

Katherine Jensen

Trainee Solicitor

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