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No-fault divorce: What are your views?

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The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the contentious issue of no-fault divorce – discussing the arguments for and against its introduction.

Under current divorce laws, couples seeking a separation need to feasibly demonstrate that their marriage has broken down irretrievably by citing either a ‘fault-based’ or ‘separation-based’ reason for divorce. These typically include:

Fault-based reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion after two years

Separation-based reasons:

  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation without consent

However, under proposals to introduce no-fault divorce to the UK, couples would effectively be entitled to legally separate without pointing toward a ‘fault’ on the side of either party.

Advocates believe that in many cases, separating couples will use the assertion of fault as a “charade” and that the introduction of no-fault divorce will reduce the number of conflicts arising from allegations of, and disagreements about, who is ‘at fault’. Such arguments are laid out in the House of Commons’ briefing paper.

Conversely, those against the introduction of no-fault divorce believe that family breakdowns are traumatic for all involved parties – particularly children – and that the institution of marriage should only be broken down in extenuating circumstances.

The House of Common’s Library’s briefing paper on no-fault divorce can be accessed here.