Divorce law ‘increases conflict’

family law

Divorce law in England and Wales needlessly creates conflict between couples, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Exeter surveyed 3,000 people from England and Wales about their attitude to divorce. One third of those questioned had been through the process before. Seventy-five people who were currently going through a divorce were also interviewed.

These surveys found that many people believe that divorce petitions do not always reflect the real reasons a marriage broke down. As it is necessary to demonstrate ‘fault’ in order to be granted a divorce, claims of wrongdoing can be exaggerated to make sure the petition is approved. This can lead to increased conflict between the parties as the one who is ‘at fault’ can feel they have not been accurately represented.

Lead author Liz Trinder is a professor at the University of Exeter Law School. She claimed that her findings highlighted “the need for law reform, made more urgent after the Owens v Owens decision”. Under the current system, spouses are encouraged “to blame each other for the breakdown, but then once they’ve done that, [the law] expects them to work together as parents to put their children first” she said. There was also no evidence from this research that the current law does anything to protect marriage, Trinder explained.

There is only one ground for divorce under the current system: irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. This can be demonstrated in one of only five ways. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years with the consent of the other spouse or separation for five years with no consent required.

Last month, Resolution chair Nigel Shepard demanded that the introduction of a no fault divorce system should not be forgotten in spite of the government’s recent preoccupation with Brexit.

Photo by Cordell and Cordell via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Andrew - April 10, 2017 at 12:50pm

And ursines defecate where arboreals abound!

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