All divorces in England and Wales proceed on the basis the marriage has irretrievably broken down. At present couples have to prove one of five facts.
These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years separation with consent, desertion or five years separation without consent. The vast majority of the time parties have not been apart long enough for any of the separation provisions to be relevant so most divorces proceed on the basis of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour. However recent research by Resolution, (an umbrella organisation of family lawyers) carried out by YouGov in June 2015 found that 27% of divorcing couples who divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery admitted the allegation of fault was not true but it was the easiest option. In other words people are lying to get divorced quickly.
Inevitably the fault base divorce system just increases the animosity between parties during divorce. The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 114,720 people divorced in England and Wales in 2013 so clearly a fault based divorced system does not act as a deterrent to divorce and nor does it help couples to salvage their marriage.
At present the No Fault Divorce Bill is to receive a second reading on 22 January 2016. The intention is to remove the blame from divorce. This would help couples to conclude their relationship in a dignified manner and move on without the need for accusations, many of which are apparently untrue.
It is a change which will be welcomed by the majority of family lawyers particularly when dealing with cases where the parties want to resolve matters as swiftly and as amicably as possible. The current model does not sit comfortably with this situation at all.