No-fault divorce is a new system coming to the UK that will alter the effect of divorce on the family dynamic, but will this effect be beneficial or detrimental?
Most people agree that families are important in our society and need protection.
This truth is even more important in cases when a couple gets divorced, and there are kids involved.
So, how is no-fault divorce altering the picture?
The history of no-fault divorce is rocky, with arguments on one side saying it will make divorce more amicable and on the other side that it makes it too easy to dissolve your family.
In this post, we’re going to give you all the benefits and drawbacks of no-fault divorce to help you make up your own mind on whether it’s a good or a bad thing for the family unit.
But before we do that, we’ll give you a brief rundown of what it is and how it differs from our current system.
Take a look…
What is No-Fault Divorce, and How Will it Make Things Different?
No-fault divorce is precisely how it sounds; a system of divorce where neither partner is blamed for the breakdown of the marriage.
It’s thought that this type of divorce will become part of the system in England and Wales by Autumn 2021 (divorce online).
The new divorce system allows married couples in the UK to file for divorce more quickly and with less attention to how each person messed up.
This is designed to make the whole process more amicable and pleasant.
Under the current system, the only way a couple can get divorced is if one spouse initiates the proceedings and alleges fault on behalf of the other.
This fault has to fit into one of the following categories for it to be considered a good enough reason for divorce:
You claim that your partner has cheated on you, and it’s become impossible to live with them.
The court has to agree that the behavior you’ve stated is unreasonable enough for you not to be able to live with your spouse anymore.
They tend to have a high threshold for what constitutes unreasonable behavior.
This isn’t the most beneficial for those wanting a quick divorce, as a spouse has to have been deserted by their partner for more than two years to claim this as a reason for divorce.
It’s also not as easy as just making these claims, a court agreeing, and you get your divorce.
If the accused disagrees with your claim, you have to enter a separation period of 5 years before you can get divorced.
You can imagine how these stringent divorce laws can cause problems and why a no-fault divorce bill has been introduced to make the process easier.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of No-Fault Divorce on the Family Dynamic?
Now that we have a general idea of what no-fault divorce is and how it completely overhauls the current system, it’s time to talk about its benefits and drawbacks.
At first glance, it seems like no-fault divorce is quicker, easier, and has fewer flaws than the current system.
So, you’d think it’d be pretty much a no-brainer.
However, every story has two sides, and this new policy isn’t infallible…
Benefits of No-Fault Divorce
We’ll start with the benefits but read through the drawbacks as well.
This way, you can ensure you get a complete picture of how the no-fault divorce bill could change the family unit.
1. Quicker and easier
The most apparent benefit of no-fault divorce is that it makes divorce quicker and easier, helping to cause less resentment.
In the current system, if you’re forced to separate for two to five years but stay married, it could cause all sorts of problems.
If the separation was caused by one spouse not accepting the blame for something their partner accused of them, things could turn sour.
In a scenario like this, animosity is bound to escalate and fester.
A dark cloud will hang over any future family dynamic you try to have for the sake of your kids.
2. Removes the blame game
Because a prerequisite of the current system is to blame your partner for something they did wrong, every divorce has to start on a negative note.
Instead, a no-fault divorce allows one or both partners to call for the divorce without any necessary blame.
The divorce starts on a positive footing, giving it more chance to end on one.
3. Less emotional harm to dependents
Since we’re talking about the family unit, it’s important to think of the effect a long, drawn-out divorce will have on your children.
Getting divorced in the first place is bad enough, but when that divorce becomes nasty, and the child is stuck in the middle, it can be extremely traumatic.
As we said in the first two benefits, a no-fault divorce will make the divorce quicker and more amicable.
So, the child will see fewer arguments and is less likely to be used as a weapon or a bargaining chip.
4. Avoids the domestic abuse trap
There are several cases where the current divorce system has kept women in abusive relationships.
These victims could be stuck with an abusive spouse for two to five years without proof of abuse.
The UK government issued a statement addressing these specific cases, saying that no-fault divorce will: “stop one partner contesting a divorce if the other wants one – which in some cases has allowed domestic abusers to exercise further coercive control over their victim.”
Drawbacks of No-Fault Divorce
Now that we’ve covered the main benefits of no-fault divorce, it’s time to discuss why some people think it might not be the best idea for families.
1. Couples will get divorced on a whim
Some people have claimed that by making the process easier, couples will divorce without trying their best to make the marriage work.
In a letter in The Telegraph, several MPs, including Sir Desmond Swayne, Fiona Bruce, and Sir John Hayes, said that no-fault divorce wasn’t the answer to fixing the family unit.
They think the government should put more resources into reconciliation instead.
They also said that no-fault divorce undermines the commitment to marriage.
By introducing the bill at a time when COVID-19 has put a strain on many marriages, will be devastating.
2. Encourages shotgun weddings
Another argument is that it will allow people to get divorced on a whim, and it might also encourage them to get married on a whim.
With the current divorce laws being so stringent, it’s less likely you’ll marry someone you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with because it’s so difficult to get out of.
With a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to worry because if you’re sick of your new spouse, you can get rid of them quickly and with no attempts at reconciliation.
3. At-fault partners won’t be held to account
The fault-based system we currently have might seem pointless, but it exists because some people are innocent victims of an unfaithful partner.
So, whoever is to blame for the marriage breakdown won’t get their comeuppance.
In these circumstances, the person needs to understand that they’re to blame for the breakdown of the marriage and the person who has been treated poorly vindicated.
This also helps the victim to claim more of a settlement, too, potentially.
When Will No-Fault Divorce Become Law?
The no-fault divorce bill has already passed and will become law in autumn 2021.
The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Bill made it through the House of Commons in June 2020.
But, it still needs to return to the House of Lords to consider an amendment before it’s given Royal Assent.
The bill reforms will not come into force until a careful implementation procedure has taken place.
That procedure should be over by autumn 2021, but there is no date yet.
Is No-fault Divorce a Good Thing or Not?
In this post, we’ve discussed no-fault divorce and how it differs from the current system.
We’ve also given you some benefits and drawbacks to consider and told you when the new laws would be implemented.
Overall, when it comes to no-fault divorce, there are two ways of looking at it:
1. If the marriage is going terribly, and staying together would cause more harm to your family than good, no-fault divorce is the answer.
2. If your marriage has had some issues, but you can keep your family together, a no-fault divorce might encourage you to divorce too early.
Both systems work well in their respective scenarios, but unfortunately, they can’t exist simultaneously.
So, some couples will lose out no matter the current divorce system.