No fault divorce, introduced in this week, makes it easier and quicker for couples to end their marriages.
Divorce applications soared by almost half just a week after the ‘no fault’ law came in, figures showed yesterday.
Around 3,000 couples have petitioned to end their marriages since the rules, which do not require couples to apportion blame, began in England and Wales last Wednesday.
Lawyers said that this was almost 50 per cent more than in a typical week.
It has fuelled fears it will lead to a spike in divorces. But divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag warned divorce shouldn’t become the ‘default option’ when a relationship hits the rocks.
Here Ayesha shares some tips for the best ways to overcome marital issues without heading to the solicitor, from leaning into the issues to figuring out what it is you’re fighting for…
Ayesha Vardag shares tips for the best ways to overcome marital issues without heading to the solicitor, from leaning into the issues to figuring out what it is you’re fighting for. Stock image
1. Decide if there’s still something to fight for
There will always be situations where the marriage is definitely over, especially if there is any form of abuse.
But after that it depends on the couple’s own views on what is accepted and what you can never come back from. Some matters can be impossible to solve whereas others could have solutions if you were to talk about it.
Sitting down and talking through where things are going wrong can allow you time to determine if there is something still there to fight for.
2. Lean into the problem
It is also very easy to distance yourself from your spouse when times are tough. But this can be more damaging in the long run. Like any living thing, a marriage needs to be nurtured and cared for.
You must spend time together and feed the marriage with positive experiences. If your marriage survives on purely negative interactions, then it will obviously wither and die.
Try not to focus on what your partner has done wrong but on what you can work on together as a partnership to make sure that it survives.
We will all make mistakes, but it is how both parties react to that which will determine what happens to the marriage.
UK divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag (pictured) has shared her top tips for couples considering a divorce
3. Don’t talk about divorce as a knee-jerk reaction
If you come across issues don’t immediately start talking about divorce – this is neither helpful nor healthy.
Instead focus on the marriage itself and what it and you both need for it to work.
Recognise why you have got into this situation and what needs to change to avoid it happening again.
I profoundly believe in the power of reconciliation, and sometimes all it takes is for both parties to sit down and address it as a viable option.
It’s surprising how adversarial things fundamentally become in a divorce. I think it’s because there is so much at stake for people: their whole life’s work, their children, their home.
Anger and hurt can so easily blind people. It is important, therefore, to do your best to look beyond these emotions, as they are so very often destructive and debilitating and people become very intransigent on the little, insignificant things.
4. Be prepared to listen and fight for each other
It may sound clichéd, but a marriage is a partnership and both sides have to be prepared to work at it as well as think about their partner’s needs and desires.
If someone feels they are not being heard, then it causes damage that is hard to overcome.
Listen to each other and be prepared to fight for each other rather than caving when the going gets tough.
So, if your marriage is having difficulties, stop and think. Talk things over. Remember the reason you got married in the first place and the things that you like about each other.
Rationalise what has gone wrong. Is it really that bad that you want to completely end your life together. Have you really drifted apart, or have you just changed, and it is now important to regroup and discover what new loves you could share?
And knowing that the law now supports an easier ending to the marriage means your energies can instead be directed in determining whether instead it can be saved.
5. If you do divorce, don’t get bogged down in regret
Don’t get bogged down in regret. And don’t fret about people judging you. I hope the move to no-fault divorce will make society less censorious when marriages end.
There seems to be an irresistible temptation for those around a couple to weigh in with judgement and taking sides, especially when adultery is in the picture.
They don’t understand that a lot of what causes people to part is hidden way under the surface of the marriage. And what people at that crossroads of their life need is support for their futures, not judgement about their pasts.
As a divorce lawyer, you must have a real understanding and compassion for human nature and take it as it comes.
That is why I campaigned for no-fault divorce to become law in the first place – because divorce shouldn’t be mixed up with animosity, mudslinging, shame, or guilt.
People separate, it happens, it’s pretty natural when you have long lives and free, independent people that they might change in different ways and want to take new directions. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
One chapter ends, another begins, and if you throw yourself into that that next chapter it can become the wonderful time of your life.
WHAT IS NO FAULT DIVORCE?
The act was passed in June 2020 and will came into force on 6th April 2022.
From 6th April, the new legislation will:
- Replace the ‘five facts’ with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown
- Remove the possibility of contesting the divorce
- Introduce an option for a joint application
- Make sure language is in plain English, for example, changing ‘decree nisi’ to conditional order and ‘decree absolute’ to final order
These changes also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
Ayesha points out that some people have been confused with how long the process takes, thinking that no fault divorce will be a lot quicker than normal proceedings, however both take the same amount of time.
The difference is that the final order will come through shortly after the conditional order but it is ‘tidier and easier.’
This Ayesha sees a positive as gives a ‘longer period of reflection.’ She explains that some people have confused divorce and financial proceedings.
What effectively no fault divorce does is ‘streamline the system,’ and recognises that ‘decent human beings’ can form relations that run their course.
No fault divorce will reduce animosity in proceedings. Ayesha says that ‘vengeful satisfaction isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.’
Quoting Ivana Trump: ‘Don’t get mad get everything!’ she advises to fight a good fight.
By being amicable you are more likely to get what you want quicker in terms of financial settlement. Yet, you can still make occupational orders to get abusive partners ouf of the home. In addition, you can get a criminal conviction against someone – ‘protections are untouched.’
Why did the law change?
Under the old law to be granted a divorce through the courts couples could either wait two years or they could petition for the end of the marriage either by accusing their partner of adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
Such examples of unreasonable behaviour include withholding sexual relations, abusive to mother, unsupportive to spouse, or violent, coercive behaviour to name a few.
They set out examples of that behaviour, even if the divorce was a mutual and amicable decision.
If however, both parties consented to the divorce, the petitioner (the spouse who filed for divorce) applied for decree nisi and then waited six weeks before they could apply for decree absolute.
Ayesha who is founder and president of leading UK and international law firm Vardags, told FEMAIL that the new reform in divorce law is very much needed in ‘modern compassionate society.’
She explains that the new application – no longer a petition – will allow couples to end their relationships amicably without playing the blame game so that finances, childcare and ultimately their friendship will be resolved more easily.
She says that ‘divorce doesn’t have to be hard’ and it is important that ‘all the love (couples) have invested in a marriage isn’t thrown away.’
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