The House of Commons has published a briefing paper on “no-fault divorce”.

It addresses the current law, previous attempts to introduce no-fault divorce, arguments for and against the issue and details of ongoing research projects.

Currently the only ground for divorce in England and Wales is the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”.  The Petitioner (i.e. the person who issues the divorce petition) must prove irretrievable breakdown by establishing one of the following five facts:

1. adultery;

2. unreasonable behaviour;

3. desertion;

4. two years’ separation with consent; or

5. five years’ separation.

According to ONS statistics, over 50% of petitions are “fault based” (i.e. numbers one to three above).  This is not entirely surprising, given that the alternative options will mean a delay of two or five years respectively.

The need for a blame element so early on in proceedings can cause unnecessary conflict and add heat to an already tense situation.  Furthermore, in the case of “unreasonable behaviour” some spouses are reduced to making up false allegations in an attempt to finalise their divorce quickly.

In my view, the current system is outdated and crying out for urgent revision.

Here at Close Brothers Asset Management we have extensive expertise in providing financial advice to clients going through divorce.  We work alongside lawyers from the outset of proceedings to assist clients with their wealth planning and investment management matters. Above all, we help clients to navigate the journey through divorce as smoothly and quickly as possible, thus enabling them to move on with their lives. Please remember that the value of investments can go down, as well as up, and you may get back less than initially invested.