UK divorce law changing to prevent couples playing ‘blame game’
UK divorce laws will change to allow couples to separate without apportioning blame in order to “reduce family conflict,” the Ministry of Justice announced Tuesday.
Family justice professionals expressed strong support for reform during a public consultation, according to a government press release, and the existing 50-year-old laws will now be updated with new legislation to be introduced to UK Parliament.
Experts say current rules can make conflict worse, reduce the chances of reconciliation, and damage children who are stuck in the middle, according to the release.
“Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances,” said Justice Secretary David Gauke.
“While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.”
The existing law obliges couples to show that their marriage is irretrievable and demands evidence of “unreasonable behavior” or years of separation.
This is the case even when a couple has mutually decided to split up.
Gauke called the current system an “unnecessary blame game” and vowed to end it for good, according to the release.
A new law could replace the evidence requirement with a statement of irretrievable breakdown, remove the ability of one partner to contest a divorce, and introduce the possibility of a joint application for divorce.
“This much-needed change to the law is good news for divorcing couples and particularly for any children involved,” said Aidan Jones, CEO of relationship support charity Relate.
“The outdated fault-based divorce system led parting couples to apportion blame, often resulting in increased animosity and making it harder for ex-partners to develop positive relationships as co-parents.”
Brought into line with the US
A new UK law would bring the country into line with the US, where you can file for a no-fault divorce in every state.
Of the 50 US states, 17 exclusively allow no-fault divorces, according to legal solutions provider LegalZoom.
In the 33 remaining states, you can file for a no-fault divorce or choose to apportion blame for a variety of reasons, which vary from state to state.
California became the first state to offer no-fault divorces in 1970, while New York was the last to do so in 2010.