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Time to end the blame game: The call for no-fault divorce

If you have divorced in England and Wales there is a strong chance that at some point in the process, one of you would have been blamed for the breakdown, be it “unreasonable behaviour” or adultery.

But what if you have just grown apart? Or the children have left home and you don’t have anything left to say to one another?

Should you be able to get divorced when the relationship is clearly over but no one is at fault?

Graham Coy, Partner at Stowe Family Law London office reflects on the importance of no-fault divorce and the impact of the Owens v Owens case.

“In the case of Owens v Owens, Mrs Owens, in her appeal to the Supreme Court today will claim that she is entitled to a divorce despite her husband’s refusal due to being in a loveless marriage and because she believes that he has behaved unreasonably even if he does not accept this.

Lower courts have disagreed with her, finding that his behaviour “was to be expected in a marriage.” Without the consent of the other party, a marriage cannot be dissolved for five years leaving Mrs Owens locked-in a marriage she no longer wants to be in.

There have been calls to introduce no-fault divorce in England and Wales for many years. Resolution, the association of family lawyers and professionals agree that there should no longer be the need to establish some sort of bad behaviour before a divorce is granted.

Family law reform is needed as behind the law is everyday families dealing with their marriage coming to an end and one of the most painful times of their lives. Having to blame the other person to be able to obtain a divorce makes matters more difficult around children and financial issues. The law needs to help people in these circumstances and not matters even worse.

Getting divorced is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life and forcing couples to pick sides exacerbates the situation. Marriage and relationships have changed so much. Divorce legislation needs to catch up.

Graham was based at the firm's London family law office. His career as a family law specialist has spanned three decades. He is an experienced advocate, mediator and arbitrator who has worked in all areas of family law.

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  1. Helen Dudden says:

    I totally agree!

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