Nobody gets married anticipating a divorce. If you’re here, we have absolutely no doubt that you’re disappointed things didn’t work out. We understand that you might be here just because you have fallen out of love. There isn’t always a reason. Someone hasn’t always cheated. Sometimes, everyone is blameless. You just don’t love each other anymore, or one of you has fallen out of love with the other one, and it’s time to get a divorce.
But can you get a divorce just because you have fallen out of love with your spouse?
Years ago, there was no way of getting divorced without one of you ‘blaming’ the other, even if neither of you had done anything wrong. That stung quite a lot of people. If two people have fallen out of love, the last thing either of them wants is to be written on paper as the person to blame for a marriage ending.
There were instances where both partners were at fault and the rules around blaming someone for the breakdown of a marriage sowed seeds of resentment between couples who were already in a bad place.
Or, couples were required to wait for a lengthy period of separation before divorce could be granted.
The old rules around divorce
Until earlier this year, there were several ways you could get a divorce, but none of them were very desirable.
You would basically have to either accuse one spouse of something awful – such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion – or you’d have to separate for two years if you were both happy to divorce or five years if one of you wasn’t. Divorce was difficult, and the rules around it felt archaic, developed at a time when divorce was highly frowned upon except in extraordinary circumstances.
A key reason for divorce has always been adultery. If one partner has engaged in sexual activity with another person, you could use this as grounds for divorce as long as you did so within six months of discovering the adultery, but you would have to bear in mind that your spouse could deny the adultery, as could the person you are accusing them of cheating on you with. This can complicate things.
This is the most common reason to file for divorce and it is the easiest to prove. You have to prove that your partner has engaged in behaviour that means you can’t continue living with them and it is impossible to reconcile. If the accusation of unreasonable behaviour is violence, you will only be required to provide proof of a couple of instances. If it’s something like neglect, carelessness with finances, or too much work, you might be asked to prove five instances of this in order for your divorce to be granted.
If your partner deserts you and there is a two year period of no contact, you can file for divorce on the grounds of desertion.
Two years separation – consent
If you and your spouse had been separated for two years, you could petition for divorce, so long as you both agree to it. This was a very common method of divorce before the new rules came into effect.
Five years separation without consent
If you and your partner have been separated for five years, you can file for divorce without your partner’s consent. This was a long time for people to wait if they wanted a divorce but their partner was contesting it.
Luckily, the rules were changed in April 2022, and now you can ask for what is known as a ‘blameless’ divorce.
What is a ‘blameless divorce’
New changes to the The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020) mean that a spouse or a couple jointly can declare that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. This means an end to finger-pointing, and can save the divorcing couple and any children they have from a painful slanging match.
This also stops one partner from contesting a divorce and locking their spouse in an unhappy marriage. In the worst case scenario, domestic abusers could refuse to set their spouse free by using the old system.
JMR Solicitors can help
If you’re looking to get divorced, JMR Solicitors can help. Our dedicated team of experts are based in our offices in Manchester and we would love to help you achieve the best possible outcome, whether that is through blameless divorce or some other means.
We’ll guide you through the entire process to make it as simple and stress-free as possible. We’ll act with your very best interests at heart.
To speak to a member of our team, call 0161 491 3933, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.