Fault based divorce, divorce requiring the misdeeds of one of the spouses of a marriage to be established to allow divorce, is a concept that most of the states in the United States have moved away from since the inception of “no-fault” divorce during the 1960’s in California. A recent story from NYTimes.com, found here, details a few of the more interesting stories from England where their legal system still requires fault for parties to get divorced and does not have a “no-fault” divorce law. In all, the suggestion by the articles author, Sarah Lyall, is that requiring fault for a divorce to be granted by the court sometimes results in the most oddest of human behaviors to manifest themselves.
The article included personal stories from several English barristers, the formal name for attorneys in England, regarding divorce cases they had been involved in over their respective years of practice. One such barrister, Ms. Vanessa Lloyd Pratt, who had been practicing for 30-odd years in divorce law, recounted the story of a woman who sued for divorce because her husband had insisted that she dress in a Kilngon, a popular Star Trek character, and speak to him in Klingon. Then Ms. Pratt recalled the story of a man who had declared that his wife had maliciously and repeatedly served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole. The articles author then included recent commentary from London Court of Appeal Justice, Justice Matthew Thorpe, who criticized English divorce law for allowing such minute matters to become issue at all and stated, “there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which seem to represent the social values of a bygone age.”
What is England’s system for divorce? Well, under current English law, divorces are only granted under one of five categories, including adultery and abandonment. Most of the cases, found the articles author, fall under the heading of a broad category called unreasonable behavior, which requires one party to accuse the other of “acting so unreasonably that living together has become intolerable.” There had been a push, in England, in 1996 for a no-fault divorce law, but the plan died in English Parliament amid worries that it would make divorce too easy. In the United States, where divorce falls under the laws of the states, every state allows for some version of no-fault divorce with New York, in 2010, becoming the last state to approve no-fault divorces.
Clearly, Florida’s no-fault divorce law has removed this requirement for parties to get divorced and, as the article, seems to relay, maybe this is a good thing. But, as always, the road to deciding the make the decision to file for divorce or the requirement to reply as such is one fraught with emotions and having an experience Florida family law attorney can help you navigate this road.