California Dreamin’ – no fault divorce


Sebastian Burrows explains why Resolution is leading the fight for no-fault divorces to be reinstated on the statute books in the Californian irreconcilable differences model.

Time flies. 20 years have passed since a no-fault route to divorce landed on the statute books and was then promptly removed. While divorce is possible after 2 years separation – without blame – there is still the wait. 2 years is a long limbo period. 

Urban myth is rife in the law. The notion of Common Law spouses is just such an example that often requires us to deliver hard advice to clients who have held that belief, often for decades. So too the idea that a couple can divorce on the basis that they simply have irreconcilable differences. We all know what that means, we think, but tough; we can’t use it.

If we can marry without too much trouble while in the delight of love and romance, why can’t it be undone just as simply if the love goes? Financial security is the main answer. The law is there to ensure financial security for a divorcing couple. But is the idea that dissolving a marriage with less distress, exposes people to financial risk? No. The hurdle is the law striking a balance between the religious significance of marriage and ensuring human compassion.

English law is a finely tuned, ever developing machine. But in the field of divorce, it would seem that an increasingly secular society and family is developing faster and we are dealing with outdated technology that risks causing serious animosity between a couple when what they want is help, not (more) heartache.

Pinney Talfourd’s nationally recognised Family Team are all members of Resolution, an organisation of 6,500+ lawyers committed to a non confrontational practice of family law. Indeed three of the team are regional committee members and I am the chair. Resolution is leading the fight for no-fault divorce to be reinstated on the statute books in the Californian irreconcilable differences model.

We are all focused on achieving amicable agreement when it comes to our finances and arrangements for the children, when a marriage breaks down. So let’s hope that the Ministry of Justice will agree that we can be trusted to decide for ourselves if our marriage is at an end, even if we’ve just fallen out of love.

MORE INFORMATIONOur family law specialists are trained to advise and assist couples in these situations to resolve matters, whether that be by way of negotiation or via the court. The team includes members of the Law Society’s Family Panel and Advanced Family Panel, accredited Resolution specialists and Collaborative Family Lawyers. If you would like more information please contact our Family Law Department on 01708 229444  (Upminster or Hornchurch), 01277 211755 (Brentwood office) or 01702 418433 (Leigh-on-Sea).  We offer a free initial 30 minute consultation for all new family law enquiries. You can book your free initial family consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This half hour appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise delays. 
This article was written by Sebastian Burrows, a Family Law Senior Associate based at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors’ Upminster office. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at September 2016.


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