What is no-fault divorce in practice?

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill contains a section on no-fault divorce and is expected to be implemented in the fall of 2021. The No-Fault Divorce Campaign was born several years ago and is supported by Resolution, an organization primarily for family lawyers aware of the damage blame can do to couples who separate.

There remains a common misconception that "fault" divorce has a significant impact on a financial award. In reality this has little impact on the calculation of what a financial settlement should be.

It is difficult for clients to separate behavior or adultery as grounds for divorce from discussions about finances. However, that is not how the courts operate. The need or desire to blame slows down the divorce process where the focus should be on resolving the issue as quickly and easily as possible.

No-fault divorce focuses on less confrontational and non-contentious ways of reaching financial settlements and discussing custody arrangements.

Will divorce reform lead to an increase in the number of divorces?

In other countries where no-fault divorce exists, there was a temporary increase in the number of divorces when the reform was passed. Overall, however, this is due to a drop in divorces in the lead-up to the law change, with some willing to wait to avoid misconduct divorce. In addition, the number of divorces is generally declining, as fewer people marry.

Will no-fault divorce make divorce faster?

The no-fault divorce process involves a six-month period before a final divorce order can be obtained. It will therefore not necessarily be faster to divorce after the reform.

Will it be cheaper to get a divorce when there is no blame?

It makes sense that if your separation is less contentious, the court costs will be lower. However, even in a no-fault divorce, as in any separation, in addition to the dissolution of the legal marriage, there are often financial arrangements to be worked out. It is desirable that with a culture of no blame, constructive negotiations leading to better and therefore less costly results be more and more frequent.

It is nevertheless advisable to seek advice from a family law solicitor or barrister when considering a separation.

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