ITV Central News is going to do a week-long look at the institute of marriage in the coming week - one of the topics that will be covered is on the number of people who have filed for divorce since the new 'no fault' law was introduced on 6 April.
Divorce applications have risen by as much as 50% with over 3,000 couples filing applications for divorce.
As part of their enquiry, ITV Central News was keen to interview me again (I was featured on ITV Central news on 5 April, a day ahead of the new law coming into effect to confirm my thoughts on the new divorce legislation) to ask two questions as set out below. I also confirm my thoughts under each question and hope you will find this blog helpful in supporting you through your divorce journey, if you are dealing with family breakup.
1. Have you noticed an increase in the number of people filing for divorce since the new law was introduced?
This is a difficult question to answer as I no longer practice as divorce lawyer so, I can’t say first-hand but my divorce lawyer colleagues and friends have all reported a huge influx in divorce enquiries in April, since the new law came into effect.
The stats show that there was a 50% increase in divorce applications week after the new divorce law compared to the week before when figures went down.
The new divorce law allows divorcing couples for the first time ever to jointly apply for divorce without blaming each other by citing adultery or unreasonable behaviour as was the case with the old law. It’s enough now to confirm that they are simply unhappy by making a joint (or sole) statement that the marriage has irretrievable breakdown.
I have noticed a slight increase in mediation referrals and enquiries in April. I guess that this could be due to increase in couples who waited to start their divorce process on a no-fault basis and who wish to follow through with sorting out child arrangements and finances also on an amicable and non-adversarial basis.
2. Now you've seen it in practice, have you seen a difference in the couples you are working with - are divorces more amicable, is the process kinder for couples?
It’s too early to judge and comment on as I only have a handful of mediation cases currently on my books that have come through on a no-fault divorce basis.
Beginning divorce on ‘the right foot’ (no blame) is a good starting position but that doesn’t take away the feelings of shock, denial, angry, pain, loss and betrayal that most people experience when going through a marriage breakup; they will need to be supported and guided by right minded non-confrontational, solution-focused professionals (lawyers, divorce mediators, divorce coaches and family therapists) to help them navigate these turbulent times to have kinder, compassionate, amicable divorces and to reach their own resolutions on issues that arise out of separation and divorce.
No-fault divorce bodes well for kinder divorces as the ‘sting in the tail' (fault) has been taken out of the process. There should be greater success in having more amicable divorces because of this fundamental change in the UK divorce laws.
However, in my view, it’s unwise to say that 'the new no fault divorce law has made it too easy for couples to separate’- anyone who has experienced divorce knows just how painful, challenging, and stressful it can be regardless of who’s to blame.
No fault divorce will help divorcing couples to start off on the right foot with ‘the glows off’ and this should bode well for more amicable divorces in the future so long as they are guided and supported by appropriate professionals and people surrounding them.
Also, only if they have the right mind-set and headspace to deal with all of the issues arising out of their separation in an amicable way; often they do not or cannot because of extenuating circumstances like significant welfare issues and/or domestic abuse.
I guess, what I’m saying is that divorce is a painful and stressful experience - you can’t take away the feelings that couples and families go through. They must put in place resources and tools to help them navigate not only the legal side but also the emotional, psychological and often physical impact of the divorce upon them and their families.
The new 'no fault divorce law and process does make it simpler for parties to file a divorce application. The legal process is made easier; I agree on this point but where there’s an outcry from some of the population who think that 'the whole process is made too easy for couples to separate’, challenging the stability and institute of marriage, in my view this is a misconception.
Nobody takes marriage vows lightly and neither do they decide to end their marriage on a whim. Even with the new ‘no fault’ divorce law in place there will still be very careful consideration and contemplation (often for many years) before such a painful decision to end a marriage is made.
The new ‘no fault’ divorce law will help divorcing couples have a more humane way of ending their marriage and as sated above, it will take the ‘sting out the tail’ (blame) and start the process with 'the gloves off', which will help couples to have more kinder, compassionate, amicable divorces moving forwards.
If you are curious about how mediation can support you and your family through separation and/or divorce, you may wish to consider our FAQs page and/or book in a Free Discovery Call via our services page.
If you are ready to get the ball rolling, please complete and submit a Self-Referral Form and book your initial separate Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) online. We will then get in touch with your ex-partner (unless requested to hold off from communicating with them) to encourage them to engage in the process highlighting the benefits of family mediation - low cost, staying in control and to have a quicker resolution compared to court based proceedings.