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Couples embarking on divorce proceedings in England and Wales will in future be able to seek a no-blame split.
The law is set to be overhauled so couples will be able to split up faster and in a more harmonious manner.
After the announcement, #nofaultdivorce trended on social media as divorcees gave their take on the development. Others contacted the BBC to share their stories about what it’s like to go through a divorce.
Lydia Vowden, from Exeter, said she left her husband in June 2016 but it took more than two years for her divorce to be finalised.
She said her husband refused to divorce and “then only on his terms of blame”.
“In that time I was an emotional mess and also struggling financially, as I had left the marital home with nothing.
“Disregarding the huge amount of financial cost, the emotional ramifications of the process are horrendous.
“A change to the system can only be a positive and will hopefully allow some of the stigma around divorce to be removed,” she added.
Currently in England and Wales in order for divorce proceedings to start immediately, one spouse has to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other but in the future they will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The new laws will also stop one partner refusing a divorce if the other wants one.
Emma Sutcliffe is a medical writer from Scarborough who hopes that “no blame” custody in family court hearings will be the next natural step.
She was married to her ex-husband for 16 years but when she applied for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, her former partner put forward a counter-petition which meant the process was drawn out. She said she will never forget her divorce date when it happened in January 2014.
“My divorce is done but the power games have continued afterwards. I would have loved if the no-fault divorce option had been available when I was going through the proceedings. I was quite lucky because I earn a decent living so I could afford to find money to deal with the counter-petition. The divorce though took a whole year.”
The mother-of-two says: “This offers hope for reformation of the family courts too in that people can leave dysfunctional relationships simply, without hideous psychological and emotional scarring as adults and facilitate stabilisation and better relationships sooner for children.
“Bitter divorces make for bitter protracted custody battles.
“Hopefully no-blame divorce paves the way for conflict-free co-operative parenting.
‘Nasty and personal’
Jill (not her real name) from Bridgend, South Wales, resented the options that were available when she was divorcing.
She was married to her first husband for four years before their divorce in 2010. She said: “No-fault divorce takes too long and we didn’t want that. Unreasonable behaviour can get really nasty and personal – you have to give detailed examples.
“It was an amicable split so we didn’t want to accuse each other of bad behaviour. So the only way I could see to get it done quickly and easily was to admit to adultery, even though we both knew it wasn’t true. It was an official form and I had to lie on it. I didn’t want to be put in that position.”
Gary, from Greater London, got a divorce from his wife in 2017. The whole process took around nine months. He says the new laws will make things a lot better and are long overdue.
“My divorce was undefended but there was still a lot of faff involved along with stress.
“My then-wife was living in Germany which only added to the frustration.
“I used a lawyer online who was both extremely reasonable and so helpful but you really have to jump through hoops.
“I hold dual nationality and the same process in New Zealand only required a signature of myself and a former wife on a court document.
“Within six week, a dissolution-of marriage-certificate was issued. It was a no-fault divorce, the only reason being that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and we’d lived apart for two years.”
He adds he never wants to go through the process again.
However, John (not his real name), from Kent, said it felt like now was a time of “disposable marriages for the disposable age”.
John, who was divorced by his wife after a marriage more than two decades long, says: “We are devaluing marriage to the point where frankly what’s the point of getting married in the first place? ‘Hmmm. Woke up unhappy this morning, bored with family life. Fill out a form and junk my family – they’ll get over it’.
“Fantastic – it’s a divorce system for the Facebook age of instant gratification.
“What happened to for richer for poorer, for better for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part?”