WHO IS AT FAULT IN A DIVORCE?
No Fault Divorce is a Divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage does not require a showing of wrongdoing by either party.
In the UK, there is only one ground for Divorce – that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, but that has to be supported by one of five facts:-
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years separation with the Respondent’s consent.
- Desertion for continuous period of at least two years
- Five years separation
- Adultery of Respondent
The No Fault Divorce bill was introduced to Parliament on the 13th October 2015. It will be given its second reading on the 22nd April 2016. It is a bill to allow dissolution of marriage or civil partnership on a sixth fault – i.e. that each party agrees that the marriage has irretrievably broken down without need for either party to blame the other.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this as many argue that the no fault divorce rewards wrong doers and allows a party who is actually at fault to obtain a Divorce. On the other hand, the fault based system can invite endless litigation, an increase in Legal costs and generally make the Divorce process even more painful for the parties.
Often, parties are forced reluctantly to exaggerate and overstate marital difficulties in order to blame the other party and satisfy the unreasonable behaviour test.
When it comes to finances, Judges will not be influenced by the basis for the Divorce or the behaviour of the parties when considering how the money should be shared out. Bad behaviour will only be taken into account if it is exceptional or if it is conduct of a financial nature such as dishonestly hiding assets or money, or deliberately dissipating the assets. There are very strict rules about full and frank disclosure of assets.
Frequently, however, guilt can play a part in terms of financial settlement if one party feels that they need to make amends to the other one for bad behaviour or adultery.
It is a common error in a Divorce for people to focus too much on establishing whose fault the Divorce is. Battling about fault through lawyers is an expensive and stressful waste of time. Often people do not realise that this will have no bearing on finances in any event.
So much of family law is about Judicial discretion. It is important for someone facing a Divorce to find an experienced and sympathetic Solicitor who will work to promote a fair and reasonable settlement rather than engage in retaliation and retribution through correspondence.
At Peter Lynn and Partners we have a team of Lawyers who are experienced, sympathetic experts in Divorce procedure, finances on Divorce, children matters and family businesses affected by Divorce.
For more information please contact Catrin Stephens on 01792 450010.