Fault, Adultery, and Divorce

No-fault divorce has been a part of American law for decades. We forget that the law is not universal. In some countries you have to prove adultery or other fault to divorce. That’s the case in England but the law may change if a new bill passes Parliament.

Adultery DIvorce

Faulty Towers

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, anyone seeking divorce must prove fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behavior.

If both sides agree, they can part after two years of separation. In the absence of consent or evidence of fault, applicants must wait until they have been living apart for five years.

Former Conservative British Member of Parliament and now  Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, wants to reform the law in England. So far, responses received by the Ministry of Justice showed widespread support for the initiative.

Florida No Fault Divorce

I’ve written about no fault divorce before. No-fault laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. In Florida no fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. Gone are the days when you had to prove adultery, desertion or unreasonable behavior as in England.

The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can it impact the outcome? Since Florida became a no-fault state, the fact that, “she (or he) is sleeping with a co-worker” doesn’t hold much traction in court any more.

When is adultery relevant in divorce in Florida. Although we are a no-fault state, there is still a statutory basis for infidelity to be an issue in your divorce proceedings, but not as a reason for divorce.

Some people think no fault divorce is one of the main reasons for a high divorce rate. Despite the recent legislative moves in the UK, there is a movement here to return to the old “fault” system to promote families.

Fault Lines

Demands for change mounted after a case was decided last year; a case which I wrote about at the time. The English supreme court ruled last year that a woman could not divorce her husband until a period of five years had elapsed. The Labor Party in England has also supported changing the law, which has remained unaltered for nearly 50 years

No-fault divorce was first introduced by the Family Law Act of 1996, but its provisions were later deemed unworkable and it was repealed. It has been widely supported by prominent members of the judiciary, lawyers and relationship charities.

There should be no law in our society that traps one human being into being married to another when they long to be free of them. That is just another form of slavery.

The Independent article is here.