I am hopeful that the introduction of no fault divorce to end the bitter ‘blame game’ will help the well being of children who are caught up in their parents’ separation.
Our firm – which has campaigned vociferously for no fault divorce and lobbied MPs – breathed a collective sigh of relief when the bill ended its Parliamentary journey and received Royal Assent.
Spearheaded by Resolution, which champions non-confrontational approaches in family law, no fault divorce aims to make it easier for people to manage their separation and work together to avoid lengthy and stressful court disputes.
Up to now, unless couples have lived apart for two or five years, one partner has to take some form of blame, either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
In our extensive experience this prolongs divorce proceedings and can cause conflict and lingering resentment which often impacts on children. Such antagonism can continue after parents have split up and more so if one of them is living with a new partner.
Sadly, children who are trapped in the crossfire can often retreat into an artificial world to escape the stresses and strains. Their behaviour can also be affected as children become attention-seeking and demanding.
The knock on effects of this can lead to long-term repercussions such as their education suffering and health problems which can bring lasting damage and affect their future prospects.
Thankfully the new law removes the need to prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or to live apart for five years before a divorce can be granted.
While the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce will remain, providing evidence of a ‘fact’ around behaviour or separation will be replaced with a requirement to submit a statement that the marriage has broken down.
No fault divorce also requires that there must be at least 20 weeks between lodging a petition to a conditional order being made.
Coming into effect in the autumn of next year, it paves the way for couples to give their children’s emotional and financial security the priority they deserve – both now and in the future.
ABOUT PETER JONES
Peter Jones is one of the country’s leading divorce and family lawyers. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, Peter set up Jones Myers as the first niche family law firm in the north of England in 1992 and has acted for a string of high-profile clients.
Renowned for his sympathetic approach, Peter is the current chair of Resolution’s Accreditation Committee, a former national chairman of Resolution and a former Deputy District Judge. www.jonesmyers.co.uk