30 Nov ‘No fault divorce’ gets one step closer
It’s a great day for divorce! I’m delighted to see 150 family lawyers gather today at Parliament to put pressure on MPs to introduce ‘No Fault Divorce’. This major lobby of Parliament has been organised by Resolution who represent 6,500 family justice professionals who are committed to supporting couples to reach non-confrontational resolutions to family disputes.
At present the current legal requirement often results in one of the divorcing couple having to attribute blame to the other, even when they don’t want to and this often sparks hostility and conflict. Currently you have to divorce on grounds such as unreasonable behaviour or adultery in order to get the paperwork underway which is a terrible way to kick off the already overwhelming and scary legal process. The increase in tensions between the couples can spiral causing family arguments, increased legal costs and more upset all round for the couple and their families.
In my coaching clinic I see clients who struggle with the consequences of attributing the blame to one of them. For some of them it comes as a real shock that that one of them must be named at fault:
- One recent client has drifted slowly apart from her husband as their kids had grown up. When their last child had left the family home they both realised they had become firm friends but were no longer in love. The decision to divorce was mutual but as soon as they realised one of them had to take the blame in the paperwork tensions mounted. Their relationship suffered as it led to some bitter arguments which they have sadly never recovered from.
- Another client of mine discovered his wife had been unfaithful and a few months after he moved out of the family home he filed for divorce citing adultery. This poured petrol over an already tempestuous relationship and led to the wife being extremely difficult with child care arrangements which had previously been agreed. It led to more legal costs as these issues then had to be addressed in the family courts.
Having a ‘no fault divorce’ system would minimise this aggressive severing at the end of a relationship and in some cases avoid it all together. Divorce is a traumatic time so any small step that will reduce conflict must be a help. The truth is that the traditional family has evolved in so many ways since the 1950’s when much of the law was set out. In my opinion it’s now an antiquated family law system in so many ways that is out of touch with the many nuances of family life in the modern world.
Resolution recently carried out a survey of family law professionals and over 90% said that divorce law needs to be modernised to allow for no fault divorce. As well as no fault divorce being a better option for separating couples, family lawyers also predicted that a change in legislation would see a rise in the use of mediation and lead to a reduction in the amount of court time spent dealing with children or financial issues relating to divorce.
Nigel Shepherd, National Chair of Resolution, said:
“It is clear that current divorce law is not fit for today’s modern society. Divorce is already difficult enough, we don’t need it being made harder by the law pushing couples into conflicts and arguments”.
A simple solution to this problem would be to include another option for divorcing couples to pick such as “irreconcilable differences’. This way no one person is at fault and the couple can move on and have the best chance of ‘consciously uncoupling’ and remaining as amicable as possible.
This may only be one small step towards improving the divorce process, but every step counts. It’s a positive move and hopefully today will be the start of bigger changes to come. Good luck Resolution, I’m cheering you on today!