This paper is intended to talk about the issue of divorce and the reforms related to it. Historically, family law either imposed a prohibition on divorce or adopted a fault approach in which divorce is only permitted on specific and restricted grounds such as adultery and desertion.
The no-fault ground is typically described using the blameless terminology of irretrievable breakdown, irreconcilable differences or incompatibility. It is available unilaterally, that is without the consent of the spouse, and may or may not require a stipulated period of marital separation.
In England and Wales, no-fault legislation was introduced by the Divorce Reform Act of 1969. This Act supplemented the fault grounds of adultery, desertion and unreasonable behaviour with separation grounds of two years (with mutual consent) and five years (without spousal consent). Strictly it is only the latter which is a pure no-fault ground, permitting one partner unilaterally to terminate the marriage on the assertion of marital breakdown and long term separation. This legislation, therefore, represented a combination of fault, mutual consent without fault, and pure no-fault divorce.
Although the English divorce reforms are apparently moving in opposite directions with regard to the legal grounds for marital dissolution, they share in common the basic philosophy that the institution of marriage is to be supported, both placing special emphasis on efforts at marital reconciliation prior to proceeding with the div ...