Long due reforms introducing “No-Fault Divorce” aimed at reducing conflict between separating couples came into force yesterday in the United Kingdom.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020), represents the biggest shake up in divorce law for more than half a century.
What Is A No-Fault Divorce?
Earlier, whenever one of the spouses would want to end marriage, he/she had to necessarily invoke some accusation against the other’s conduct, such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or adultery, or face years of separation before a divorce could be granted.
This was regardless of whether a couple had made a mutual decision to separate. A new ground – No-Fault Divorce – ends not just the misery of several couples in the UK, but also ceases endless blame games for the breakdown of their marriage. The new law will now instead focus on key practical decisions involving children or their finances and look to the future.
How Does New Law Work?
Under the current law, couples wanting to separate in the UK must rely on one or more ‘facts’ to prove that their relationship has irretrievably broken down. These facts are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Adultery (not available for civil partnership dissolution)
- Desertion for at least 2 years
- Separation for at least 2 years with the consent of both parties
- Separation for at least 5 years even if one party disagrees
- The divorce petition is brought by one party who must effectively ‘blame’ the other party for the divorce. If one half of the couple disagrees with the divorce or the facts relied upon, they can contest the divorce and potentially even prevent it
The changes in the law would mean that a spouse, or a couple jointly, can now apply for divorce by stating their marriage has broken down irretrievably.
It removes unnecessary finger-pointing and acrimony at a time where emotions are already running high, and spares children from witnessing their parents mudslinging.Importantly, it stops one partner from vindictively contesting a divorce and locking their spouse into an unhappy marriage. In some cases, domestic abusers can use their ability to challenge the process to further harm their victims or to trap them in the relationship. The reforms will put an end to this behaviour.
Timeframe For No-Fault Divorce
The Act also introduces a new minimum timeframe of 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and when individuals may apply for a conditional order of divorce. This will offer time to reflect, and potentially turn back, or where reconciliation is not possible to agree important arrangements for the future – such as those involving children, finance and property.
Speaking with media, Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
The breakdown of a marriage can be agonising for all involved, especially children. We want to reduce the acrimony couples endure and end the anguish that children suffer.That’s why we are allowing couples to apply for divorce without having to prove fault, ending the blame game, where a marriage has broken down irretrievably, and enabling couples to move on with their lives without the bitter wrangling of an adversarial divorce process.
Specific Measures from the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act:
- Replacing the current requirement to evidence either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (for the first time, couples can opt to make this a joint statement)
- Removing the possibility of disputing the decision to divorce, as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, except on limited technical grounds
- Introducing a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to a conditional order of divorce being made, allowing greater opportunity for couples to agree practical arrangements for the future where reconciliation is not possible and divorce is inevitable
- Simplifying the language of divorce to make it more understandable. This includes replacing the terms ‘decree nisi’, ‘decree absolute’ and ‘petitioner’, with ‘conditional order’, ‘final order’ and ‘applicant’
Alimony & Maintenance
Whilst the no-fault divorce system will do away with the five fault-based “facts”, no clear statement has yet been made as to how costs are to be treated under the new regime.
If the applicant is no longer able to attribute blame to the other party for the breakdown of the marriage, who will assume responsibility for paying the costs of the divorce? One possibility is that there could be a general encouragement that parties share the costs of the divorce equally unless there is good reason not to, or perhaps the general rule could be that it will fall to the financially stronger party to meet those costs.
Further, no-fault divorce is merely one more ground for divorce and alimony, financial settlements and maintenance of children will continue as per law.
Does India Need No-Fault Divorce/Irretrievable Breakdown In Marriage?
Current matrimonial laws in India, combined with the collapsed judicial system, are completely inhuman. This is one of the main reasons why most couples – both husband and wife – do not have the courage to step out legally from a dead marriage. While India is working on Uniform Civil Code, if we look at Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it makes it nearly impossible for a husband to win a contested divorce.
Do read some of the legal orders and cases below, where Men had to go right upto Supreme Court almost pleading for their legal freedom against Cruel wives – who think it is their birthright to keep a man hanging for life, at least legally.
It has taken them not a few years but decades to set them free from such wives. Most men in India who dare to file for divorce in their 30s, may end up getting divorced in their 50s, which means they cannot start a new family life. What is the point of getting such a divorce, where a man has been rendered without a companion in his old age?
On the other hand, if women choose to divorce their husbands, currently they are empowered with numerous biased laws – both civil and criminal – that ensure to make husbands and their families to pay up and sign on the dotted line…
No Fault Divorce – PROS
- India still does not have a basic Domestic Violence law in favour of Men
- The only grounds to file divorce against a harassing, cruel, abusive (mentally and physically) wife is Grounds for Cruelty, which is a Civil Case
- Most family courts do not conclude arguments in the matter for minimum 5 years, and wives who refuse to set their husbands free, keep taking advantage of a corrupt and dead system – which favours only and only the women
- After many years pass, it is impossible for men to prove charges of cruelty against their wives or what would have happened decades ago in four corners of the home, and once again the system is least interested in being solution oriented
- In the interim, ‘cruel’ wives are granted monthly maintenance for life, which is one of the top reasons that women have nothing to lose, as they keep stalling the completion of the divorce proceedings
- A husband is looted by lawyers, police and also made to pay maintenance – even if he loses his job or becomes a handicap
- A husband is also bound to pay his wife for the rest of his life, if she chooses to live separately from him after few days or months of living together as a couple
- And after all this too, the onus of proving cruelty by wife solely rests on him
- No-fault divorce / irretrievable breakdown in marriage law will put an end to these real life courtroom dramas for decades, and enable both spouses to begin a new life
No Fault Divorce – CONS
- Many Men & Women fear dissolution of their marriage if one spouse chooses to opt out unilaterally
- The same could also be due to infidelity by either of them
- However, as India has already decriminalised Adultery law (Section 497 IPC), neither spouse can hold back the other physically, except for financial security of the woman
- This means that in such scenarios, if a husband wants to move out, he is liable to financial secure his wife for life, but if a woman chooses to set herself legally free due to her affair, instead she will be rewarded with financial security by husband
- Yes, this is a tricky angle in this law, however, Men must realise that as per our existing system, Husbands are bound to pay maintenance eitherways to their wives for life, with or without their fault (Section 125 CrPC)
- Should No-Fault divorce become a reality just by waking up from other side of the bed one fine day, or the same should be defined where parties have been separated for a consistent period of time (for eg. 2 years)
- Sadly, it will be a situation where Men must choose to suffer forever in a ego battle while paying monthly maintenance, or pay up one time and buy their freedom and peace
Child Custody Matters
The law must make it amply clear that couples who separate must share custody of children so that both parents have equal right and say in the upbringing of the child.
No-fault divorce should mainly smoothen the process of never ending court battles, but that should not become another tool to leave either spouse miserable without children (most often the fathers in custody cases).
- Duration in the marriage (couple lived together) must be the crux of any financial settlement & the same must be Gender Neutral
- If a woman is already working and earning, she must be discouraged from demanding any maintenance whatsoever
- In all other cases, maintenance timeline must be fixed like the Rehabilitative Maintenance adopted by Netherlands, which will allow divorced women to return to their professional life (Click Here To Read)
- Currently, we have made separated wife completely incompetent in the name of empowering them with lifelong maintenance
- Financial assistance for children must be completely out of Maintenance to Spouse ambit
- If both parents are working, both must contribute accordingly to the welfare of the child
- If wife is not working, but neither allowing the father to see his child, she should have no right to demand money from the father in the name of child welfare
- If husband’s property is to be divided, then the wife’s property must also become a part of the asset pool that will be equally split up
- Assets to be divided must have been strictly built during the co-habitation period of marriage (any property prior to marriage – self owned or inherited – must be kept out)
Leave Your Comments Below:
UK Legalises NO FAULT DIVORCE— Men’s Day Out (@MensDayOutIndia) April 7, 2022
Can It End False Cases By Wives If India Adopts The Same? Read Our Detailed View |
▪️Asset Division / Alimony / Maintenance to Spouse@narendramodi @AmitShah @KirenRijiju @smritiiranihttps://t.co/T5zRh5sGxQ
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