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No Fault Divorce: Lawyers Demand Reform

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According to a recent report in the , three in four divorce lawyers want the Government to reform the current divorce system and allow "no fault" divorce.

Unlike Canada, Germany and 49 states in the U.S.A, the U.K does not recognise "no fault" divorce nor allow couples to make joint divorce applications citing "incompatibility", "irreconcilable differences", or "irremediable breakdown of the marriage".

Instead, one spouse (known as the "pursuer" in and "petitioner" ) must blame the other spouse (the "defender" in Scotland and "respondent" elsewhere) to obtain a divorce.

Many lawyers believe the current adversarial, fault-based system causes unnecessary delay and acrimony.

"Anyone not wanting to wait two years or more for a divorce has to prove 'unreasonable behaviour' or adultery on the part of their husband and wife.  Although for some couples this is appropriate, for many it simply adds animosity and more heartache to an already distressing process," said Nicholas Longford, chair of , a group that campaigns for improvements in the family justice system

In 1996, John Major's Conservative Government proposed reform to allow no fault divorce.  After Tony Blair and New Labour entered Government in 1997, the reform movement really started to gain momentum, but was due to negative press coverage. 

Now neither Labour nor the Conservatives support a change in the law.

Indeed the  says if the Tories win this year's general election they will implement  to make divorce even more difficult.

Duncan Smith favours compulsory three-month "cooling off" periods before a spouse can initiate formal divorce proceedings.  He also advocates mandatory "information meetings" to compel couples to "reflect on their marriage," "explore the possibility of reconciliation," and receive counselling on "the implications of divorce."

** Additional Information & Advice **

You can obtain further information about divorce on .

Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a .  You can be in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.

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