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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

USA moves to take the blame out of divorce

The States has to be applauded for moves to take the blame out of divorce. It will never work though. Blame starts in a divorce long before you get to the nuts and bolts of how the divorce process works. A rule change is unlikely to change that.

A law package of bills was signed last week, including one that makes New York one of the last states to allow couple sot dissolve marriages by mutual consent. The no-fault divorce bill allows a couple to dissolve the marriage by mutual consent and without requiring one spouse to accuse the other of adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment.

In theory, the no fault divorce is a good idea. It removes the need to point the finger in official documents and dream up a reason for wanting to split, something that can often enflame an already volatile situation. This can lead recriminations to escalate along with legal bills and the need to spend time in court.

However, blame happens in every relationship breakdown, well before people find out they need to list a reason in the divorce proceedings. Let’s not confuse blame with fault. For some people it is a cathartic moment to be able to put down in official papers how appallingly badly treated they have been by the other—take battered or emotionally battered wives or husbands for example.

In the UK, our focus should be on making divorce procedures easier and less expensive, but don’t think that “social worker wishy washy” “let’s keep it all nice and no nasty blame” is either realistic or maybe even desirable in all cases.

The skill in those is having a lawyer who helps people see what are the important aspects of the case and helps direct the understandable powerful feelings towards a constructive solution to the problem.

As part of our campaign to improve the divorce process, we want to see less animosity caused by the legal procedure - and unscrupulous or ill-advised lawyers. For a long time I have advocated a no fault divorce and I stand by that. But to think that that will get away from people blaming each other for the breakdown of their marriage is not realistic. A no fault divorce simply helps things along. It won’t change human nature.


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