The Blame Game is what they called divorce in England and Wales before today, April 6, 2022.
Today’s the day that no-fault divorce goes into effect.
Before 12:01 this morning (GMT) anyone in England or Wales who wanted to divorce in anything like a timely manner had to accuse their partner in a divorce petition “of desertion, adultery or unreasonable behaviour.”
The alternatives were (a) if both partners agreed to a divorce they had to spend two years apart, (b) if one spouse objected to the split, it was five years. It really wasn’t (and still isn’t) financially possible to wait two years, never mind five.
Couples had a decision to make if they wanted to divorce and move on with their lives: who would take the blame. Someone had to, or it was wait. Draining financially, emotionally, and it left the children in limbo.
Here’s something most of humankind shares – no one wants to take the blame for something they didn’t do. No one wants their great-great grandchildren finding out on Ancestry.com that grand grandpop “abandoned the family . . . or committed adultery . . . or engaged in unreasonable behavior.” Because that’s went on the record. Forever.
It’s unsurprising, then, that the need to assign blame added unwanted stress to an already emotional process. It made things messier. Nastier.
From Sky News: “Sarah Gregory and her ex-husband, who she said was her ‘best friend and soul mate’, went through the divorce system after 13 years of marriage. Ms. Gregory told Sky News that what should have been a straightforward divorce ended up being complicated by the old legislation.
“You were given five options and only one really was suitable for us which was the unreasonable behaviour and again it didn’t really suit our needs because we simply fell out of love. It made things worse, knowing that one of us was going to have unreasonable behaviour on our divorce certificate. It delayed the process because it brought up some mixed feelings between us.
“We didn’t have many bad things in our marriage so you’re almost trying to exaggerate some of the not so nasty things that happened between us. I guess it just kind of created some kind of animosity between us both.”
A prominent barrister told The Independent that the no-fault divorce “legalisation is great” and would have made her divorce proceedings a much quicker process. “You hear so many stories of people coming out of divorce being utterly bereft with huge mental health issues, that can lead to debts and it can lead to the further breakdown of relationships within the family – whether that’s extended family or whether it’s the relationship between a parent and a child.
“If you have a more amicable way of approaching divorce you avoid all of those problems.”
I love that last line. We, obviously, have no-fault divorce in Washington State. We also have ‘a more amicable of approaching divorce’ – mediation.
Talk to us about it. It’s worth it.