What are the Grounds for Divorce | Howells Solicitors
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What are the Grounds for Divorce?

Howells Solicitors

19 Nov, 2022

Sharon Lockwood Partner & Family Law Solicitor Sharon.Lockwood@Howellsllp.com 01709 364 000

As the current law stands, to apply for a divorce, you must do so on the grounds that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. Technically, this is now the only grounds for divorce.

Previously, the law set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 only allowed a person to obtain a divorce if one of the five following facts were made out:-

a) Your spouse had committed adultery.
b) Your spouse had behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together.
c) Your spouse had deserted you for a continuous period of 2 years or more.
d) You and your spouse had been living separately for 2 years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce.
e) You and your spouse had been living separately for 5 years or more, whether your spouse consents to the divorce.

However, as of April 2022, a no-fault divorce was introduced. This change means that a spouse (or couple) can now apply for a divorce by simply stating their marriage has broken down and cannot be fixed, without the need to point fingers or blame anyone.

Getting Divorced in England and Wales

You can now get divorced in England and Wales, as long as the following are true:

  • You’ve been married for over a year.
  • Your relationship has broken down permanently.
  • The marriage is legally recognised in the UK.

No-Fault Divorce

With a no-fault divorce, you will still be required to demonstrate the irreparable breakdown of the marriage, but will do so by way of a “statement of irretrievable breakdown”. This means that you will no longer have to rely on a particular fact to demonstrate the breakdown.

In many cases, couples wanted a divorce because the love had been lost within the marriage, or the circumstances have changed to such an extent within a relationship that people wish to go their own separate ways. With the introduction of no-fault divorce, there is no longer a need to engage in any “blame game”.

What are The Benefits of a No-Fault Divorce?

Many couples had found themselves having to wait 2 years to obtain a divorce if nobody was necessarily at fault. This often meant people were in limbo and were separated but still tied to their ex-partner. People now no longer have to wait 2 years if they wish to obtain a divorce amicably.

The new law also removes the ability for one spouse to contest the decision to divorce if they do not agree with the reasons for divorce, therefore avoiding lengthy and unnecessary contested court proceedings.

After the change in April 2022, parties no longer had to demonstrate that the other person is to blame. Often, individuals felt as though they had to “jump through hoops” to get a divorce. That will no longer be necessary. It also removes any inequality in the law for same-sex partners who previously could not rely on the ground of adultery, putting all persons on an equal footing when obtaining a divorce.

Achieving an Amicable Divorce

The purpose of the change in the law is to ensure that matters remain as amicable as possible. There is even an option for parties to make a joint application for divorce. This should help to prevent unnecessary animosity. It could assist to ensure that other issues stemming from divorce, such as arrangements for the children and settling the finances, can be dealt with in a calm and friendly manner.

Under the current legal framework, there is still the option to claim your costs from your spouse in a divorce. However, it remains to be seen how the court will deal with these applications where nobody is technically “at fault.”

All in all, this is a welcome development and brings the divorce legislation up to date with the modern era.

Collaborative Law to Achieve an Amicable Divorce

Collaborative law offers the opportunity for both parties to come together with their solicitors and mutually work out terms for separation. During a meeting involving the divorcing couple and their respective collaborative law specialists, settlements, and agreements will be amicably discussed and negotiated. 

Collaborative law is an out-of-court option and should further help achieve an amicable divorce. It provides a safe space for both parties and avoids the courts making decisions on their behalf. 

Divorce Solicitors at Howells

If you are separated and looking to get a divorce, our team of experts are here to help. We know it can be worrying to contact a divorce solicitor, but you’ll find our team approachable and easy to talk to. We have specialists that can help with a range of matters such as child custody, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements and financial settlements.

We also offer a free 30-minute appointment to all new clients. Call us on 0114 249 6666 or email enquiries@howellsllp.com

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