Divorce law ‘increases conflict’ between couples

family law

The current divorce law in England and Wales unnecessarily increases conflict between separating spouses, a charity claims.

In research published today, the Nuffield Foundation suggested that divorce petitions often do not accurately represent why a marriage broke down and called for the introduction of no fault divorce.

Currently, couples in England and Wales who want to bring their marriage to an end must demonstrate that their relationship has irretrievably broken down by citing unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion or separation of at least two years. Most of these mean that the spouse asking for the divorce must blame the other for the breakdown of their marriage.

In the newly published study, people who were going through a divorce were surveyed about the process. Nearly two thirds – 62 per cent – of those who applied for a divorce and 78 per cent of respondents believed that the emphasis on fault had made their separation more bitter than it could have been. Around 21 per cent of respondents claimed it had made coming to an agreement about children harder, while 31 per cent said it had made financial discussions more difficult.

The study was led by University of Exeter professor Liz Trinder. She said the current fault requirement was part of a “painful, and sometimes destructive” system which offers “no obvious benefits for the parties or the state”.

Those who argue against no fault divorce often claim that it would make people less likely to stay together but Professor Trinder explained there was “no evidence from this study that the current law protects marriage” and recommended that fault be removed from the divorce law entirely. It “should be a purely administrative process with no requirement for judicial scrutiny”, she insisted.

Meanwhile Teresa Williams, the director of Justice and Welfare at the Nuffield Foundation, claimed the current law was “at serious risk of being brought into disrepute by the mismatch between the divorce law in theory and what is actually happening in practice”. The persistence of fault in the divorce process was “at odds with the thrust of wider reforms in the family justice system, which have focussed on reducing conflict and promoting resolution” she said.

Photo by YunHo LEE via Flickr under the Public Domain.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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3 comments

RW - October 31, 2017 at 7:55am

Went through a very messy divorce with the mother using parental alienation with my 7 year old son she was isolating him away from me in the same house for 16 months because I refused to sign over the house for 20k she made false rape allegations to get a emergency non mol against me to get me out of the house because I applied for a c100 and gave a lot of evidence of what she was doing with a child and with evidence she lied in a court statement, The mother works as a nurse for the learning disability section. Cafcass were fully aware of what was going on and made a false section 7 report protecting the mother and it was sent out unfinished and with wrong information which I proved in court. I have done a complaint to Cafcass with MP’s listed it’s been sent to.

John - October 31, 2017 at 4:49pm

Couldn’t agree more! No fault divorce should have been introduced a long time ago!

FamiliesNeedFathers - October 31, 2017 at 5:55pm

The study just published states:-

“the Law Commission concluded in fairly strong terms, that the law was confusing and misleading and that law and practice allowed and even encouraged parties to lie or exaggerate”

No-fault divorce is long overdue. It won’t transform the family justice system and far too many other aspects continue to ‘encourage’ lies and exaggeration. That said, anything that lowers temperatures at difficult times has to be a good thing, so let’s hope this simple ‘no brainer’ is adopted this time around.

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