For several years now, those of us that work with people that are divorcing their spouse have felt that the need to apportion blame under is both unnecessary and harmful.
We have all petitioned the government accordingly and this, coupled with the high-profile case of Tini Owens, has resulted in them stating that they intend to hold consultations centred around the potential introduction of no-fault divorce to England and Wales later this year.
Naturally, whilst many support such a change, there are also those who oppose it.
Amongst the arguments put forward by opponents of no-fault divorce, one has gained genuine traction: that making divorce easier will lead to more and more fractured and estranged families.
On the face of things, such arguments make sense. Scratch the surface, though, and it soon becomes clear that this argument is flawed. In fact, should no-fault divorce be permitted following the end of the aforementioned consultations, it will actually benefit families.
- Separation and divorce are two different things
Yes, they’re similar but whilst a divorce is obtained following a legal process having been followed, a couple can separate at any time and with no involvement from any other parties. To put it another way, family units undergo fundamental change when couples separate, not when they divorce.
Indeed, due to legal requirements, the courts of England and Wales will not consider an application for divorce if a couple are not living separate lives and divorce is never the reason for families breaking up as a result.
- Blame makes people angry
The need for one spouse to blame the other is something that is more than capable of transforming a harmonious divorce into one that is both rancorous and protracted.
As drawn out and confrontational divorces are extremely stressful and certain to make it harder for the parties involved to maintain a civil relationship following its conclusion, simply allowing a couple to apply for and obtain a divorce after they have been living separately for a reasonable amount of time is infinitely more sensible.
By providing spouses with the best possible means of retaining a harmonious, low-conflict and functional relationship, the potential damage a divorce can have on them and indeed their children is largely negated.
- It doesn’t really make divorce easier
One argument I and my colleagues find particularly hard to follow is that making divorce easier inevitably leads more couples to choose to end their marriages.
Those in the know will tell you that such arguments are deeply flawed because the hardest part of any divorce – deciding that your marriage has broken down – cannot be made easier.
However unhappy someone may be with their relationship, I can hand-on-heart state that the decision to walk away from a marriage is always a heart-breaking experience – even when everyone involved has decided that it’s for the best.
The logical conclusion: that changes to the divorce process ultimately cannot make ending a marriage easier as the most painful part of doing this will remain unchanged.
- Happy Parents = Happy Children
As we’ve stated previously, removing blame from the divorce process ensures that the task of ending a marriage is significantly less confrontational.
This means that the parents involved are certain to find it easier to maintain a positive relationship and, as a direct result of this, provide their children with better care by working together more effectively post-divorce.
Research has now shown that it is how parents work and interact with one another following a divorce that has the most significant effect on their children.
Those that are critical of one another and that are unable to co-parent effectively make it significantly more likely that their children will be adversely affected by their divorce.
Alternatively, parents that are able to work together and maintain a positive relationship will leave their children feeling secure, loved and largely unaffected by the end of their parent’s marriage.
Those that argue that allowing couples to divorce without the need to apportion blame will result in more families breaking up are, whilst well-intentioned, incorrect.
Alterations to the divorce process are unlikely to affect the number of married couples that chose to separate and, even in the event that it leads to an increase in the divorce rate, this will more than likely be down to the fact that numerous people had not filed for divorce as they were unwilling or unable to use fault-based grounds.
What’s more, as these couples will have separated beforehand, it is simply untrue to state that their divorce is the reason for any estrangement that may occur as a result.
Furthermore, making the divorce process less confrontational is in the best interests of parents and their children.
It significantly reduces the potential harm divorce can cause all parties and this, coupled with the fact that it’s highly unlikely that no-fault divorce will result in more couples separating, is why I am firmly of the opinion that removing blame from the divorce process in its entirety will benefit both families and, indeed, society at large.
More articles by Jay Williams
Jay Williams works for Quickie Divorce, one of the UK’s largest providers of quick online divorce solutions and divorce papers, as a Case Manager.
He helps clients understand the divorce process and complete all of their documentation, forms and much more, in order to ensure that the process runs smoothly throughout. He lives in Cardiff with his wife and two-year-old daughter Eirys.