The usual ground for a Divorce is irretrievable breakdown which must be accompanied by one of the following 5 facts:
- The respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent.
- The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
- The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce.
- You have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce and the respondent consents to a decree being granted.
- You have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the start of the divorce.
Could there potentially be a “6th” fact?
Part 2 of the Family Law Act 1996 (FLA) included provisions to allow a form of “no-fault divorce”.
More recently, Richard Bacon MP introduced the No-Fault Divorce Bill 2015-2016 under the ten-minute rule (HB Deb 13 October 2015 cc 189_94). He proposed that couples should have the opportunity to jointly agree that their marriage had irretrievably broken down.
Presently, parties are required to wait at least 2 years after separating before they are able to consent to a Divorce.
He proposed that the parties would sign a Declaration that their marriage had irretrievably broken down although he made it clear that he did not intend to make it easy for parties to get divorced and proposed a cooling-off period of 12 months before a Decree of Divorce could be made Absolute.
Baroness Hale of Richmond stated that there was a need for a no-blame divorce. In an interview with Evening Standard she stated, such a move would mean couples can end their marriages simply by saying the relationship had failed without implying blame on either side.
It would be interesting to see whether this bill will be passed. There is the risk that even if this bill is passed, couples may not wish to base their divorce on this fact because of the 12-month cooling off period. Presently, if couples base their divorce on the other’s unreasonable behaviour, the other party can still agree to the divorce proceeding and deny the allegations being made against them.
The length of time required between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute is 6 weeks and 1 day and therefore it would not be surprising if couples decide to base their divorce on traditional facts.