Dundee Family Lawyer

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No Fault Divorce Bill Receives Second Reading

The No Fault Divorce Bill will receive a second reading in the House of Commons on the 22nd of January 2016. This is a Private Members' Bill by Conservative MP Richard Bacon. A Private Members' Bill is one that is introduced by an MP or Lord, rather than a government minister. These bills must follow the same process as an ordinary Bill but will usually receive less time for all the issues to be debated and therefore, it is uncommon for these bills to become law. Private Members’ Bills will often attract public interest and may end up affecting the law indirectly.

This Bill aims to make it possible for a divorcing couple to dissolve their marriage if there is ‘an individual statement from each party that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, signed freely and independently.’

Public Support for Bill

The No Fault Divorce Bill is currently generating public discussion about the way we divorce in the UK. Currently in England and Wales a separating couple will have to prove that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be shown through adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with consent or five years separation without consent. Only the two years separation option has no fault attached to it. Many commentators believe these requirements create the need for couples to attribute blame to one another which adds to the discord during the separation.

The most senior family law judge in England and Wales, Sir James Munby, has argued that no fault divorce should available and could be handled by a registrar as a purely administrative matter. This would dramatically reduce the involvement of a court in divorce proceedings but some critics have pointed out that this could leave the system open to abuse.

The Head of family law at Co-Operative Legal Services has commented that ‘It's more important now than ever that individuals are able to mutually divorce without one party having to take the blame.’

This support for the Bill was echoed by Jo Edwards, the Chair of Resolution, a group of family lawyers dedicated to promoting amicable separations. Jo said, ‘Removing the blame from divorce, as proposed in Richard Bacon's bill, would help couples who both wish to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives without the need for accusatory mud-slinging. This outdated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.’

Divorce in Scotland

The situation is better for separating couples in Scotland.

Most divorcing couples will start with a Minute of Agreement (also called a separation agreement) that enables them to come to a mutually agreed arrangement about the day-to-day aspects of their separation. These documents will normally settle who will live in the home that was being shared by the couple, what the residence arrangements will be for any children of the couple and how and debts or savings will be shared.

This allows couples to negotiate terms in a constructive fashion. The courts are likely to accept a separation agreement as a legally binding and enforceable contract so you might wish to speak to an experienced divorce lawyer before signing.

The most common ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown. The way this can be proven in Scotland differs from England. In Scotland you must show that your partner has behaved unreasonably, adultery, you have lived apart for at least one year and both agree to the divorce or you have lived apart for two years and only one of you agrees to the divorce.

If you have no children under the age of 16 and can agree about matter then you can follow the Simplified Procedure. This is inexpensive, straightforward and fast.

If you have a more complex set of circumstances then the Ordinary Procedure would apply.

Family Law Dundee

Family Law Dundee is operated on behalf of Kathleen McCarthy. Kathleen is a highly experienced family lawyer who fights hard to protect the interests of her clients.

Call us on 01382 281 561 or contact us online.

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