Allow people to divorce without blame

The problem

At present, in order to divorce, unless couples have been living apart for two years, one of them needs to apportion some form of blame –adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

This often creates conflict and makes reaching a mutually acceptable agreement much more difficult. 

Removing blame from divorce will not make it more likely that people will separate. It will simply make it easier for people to manage their separation with as little conflict and stress as possible and reduce the likelihood that they will end up in court.

In 2012, there were over 72,000 divorces where adultery or unreasonable behaviour were cited. People should not have to go through this blame charade to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives. A civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.

Our solution

Resolution proposes a new divorce procedure, where one or both partners can give notice that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The divorce can then proceed and, after a period of six months, if either or both partners still think they are making the right decision, the divorce is finalised. Divorce without blame was provided for in the Family Law Act 1996 but never enacted. The Government’s own Family Mediation Taskforce recently recommended that divorce without blame be introduced.

Divorce without blame will increase the chances of success for non-court dispute resolution processes as it immediately puts both partners on a level footing. This will reduce the burden on the family court and help government to meet their aim for more people to resolve their problems outside of the courts.

Resolution is not alone in calling for change. Successive Presidents of the Family Division have stressed the need for reform. Many other countries around the world – including Australia, the United States, and Spain – allow for divorce without blame.