Published in Blog by Avi Shmueli on April 6th 2022
Avi Shmueli, Psychoanalyst, Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and expert on divorce and separation explores the emotions that will endure - even if the process of splitting is made less painful.
The new ‘No-Fault’ divorce was introduced by government on April 6 2022 to great applause and general welcome.
In essence the change in the law means that neither of the individuals who wish to divorce need to formally state in the divorce petition which of them is at fault and on what grounds fault is attributed. The hope for this change lies in the notion that by removing the requirement of conflict having to be explicitly stated, so conflict between the couple who are divorcing can be reduced and that this reduction translates into greater collaboration and a potential lowering of the negative impacts of divorce for all involved, including children.
The intensity of what is felt which can include anger, shame, injustice, intense hurt and sadness
Quite whether this will be the case remains to be seen, but there is no doubting that the underlying wish to make the process as developmental as possible for everyone involved is very present. It would be naive however to think that a no-fault divorce means that there is no conflict between the divorcing couple. If there was no conflict, no matter the type of conflict, the couple would not be getting divorced. The change in the law has an emphasis on the way in which conflict is managed and by implication the way in which it has to be thought about.
The change highlighted for me the duality of human experience. At one and the same time each of us lives in the world around us, having an impact upon that world and in turn being impacted upon by that same world. Simultaneously we all live within our own internal experience and put simply, what it is like to be ourselves with all of our feelings and all of our thoughts, some of which may not be that acceptable to the world outside of our own mind. The remarkable aspect of human existence is that for each of us, these two worlds are generally seamlessly overlaid so that it becomes quite difficult to distinguish between them in the course of ordinary conversation.
So, the event of divorce and separation, whether desired or inevitable, a complete shock or agreed, cuts across that seamless quality. The intensity of what is felt which can include anger, shame, injustice, intense hurt and sadness, and may seem suddenly not to have any place if the external world says there is ‘no- fault’. The implication therefore of the important development of the no fault divorce is the equal importance of each partner taking their mental health seriously and seeking appropriate forums in which to attend to themselves.
The ‘No fault’ divorce is a welcome development in terms of the legal process, but it doesn’t mean no feeling. How those feelings are managed and worked with is key and that has not changed since the very advent of relationships let alone divorce.
It would be naive however to think that a no-fault divorce means that there is no conflict between the divorcing couple.
View videos about no-fault divorce by Dr Avi Shmueli, Head of our Divorce and Separation Consultation Service.