Supporting clients through "faultless" divorces

On 6 April 2022 the law surrounding divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships in England and Wales changed significantly.  From this date "no fault divorce" will be available and individuals will no longer need to assign fault to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage (or wait out a lengthy period of separation) in order to legally separate.

It is hoped removing fault from the legal process will set the stage for post-separation arrangements (for example, regarding finances or children) to be made more amicably.

However, where a client strongly feels their ex-partner is at fault these changes to the law may not have their anticipated impact.  Being able to tell a court why they believe their marriage or civil partnership broke down can enable an individual to feel their voice has been heard.  In the absence of this outlet, residual frustrations may instead negatively impact the tone of subsequent negotiations.

In order to capitalise on the potential "no fault divorce" creates for more amicable post-separation relationships, how can clients be supported so they still feel any grievances have been heard?

Counselling

Some clients might find it helpful to seek counselling, either alone or with their ex-partner.  A counsellor can work with an individual to help them understand and manage the feelings they have about their separation. Counselling has the advantage of being entirely separate to legal arrangements being made with the help of solicitors.  The counsellor will focus their efforts on the wellbeing of the individual(s) they are counselling.

More information on counselling is provided by Relate.  

Mediation

In mediation a separated couple works with a neutral third-party mediator to consider the relationship breakdown with the aim of agreeing how to resolve resulting issues such as arrangements for the care of any children. It is possible to discuss the impact of the separation, or one partner’s behaviour, as part of this process. However, unlikely in counselling, this discussion should be in the context of moving forward and helping transition the couple’s relationship.

For more information about mediation click here.

Other support

In some cases it may be as simple as ensuring the client has a support network of people who are there to listen to them. It may be helpful to ask whether they would like a friend or family member to accompany them to meetings with you, or to encourage them to look into local support groups.

There are also online resources designed to help individuals understand and process their experience. The charity Family Lives, for example, publishes a range of advice on relationship breakdown.

More information on divorce and dissolution, changes to the law and your options for resolving disputes can be found at divorce.co.uk 

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