Current Law ‘Incentivising’ Quickie Divorces
The current divorce law in England and Wales has been criticised because it incentivises people to exaggerate claims of adultery or divorce in order to rush through a quickie separation.
New research from the Nuffield Foundation has found that in 2015 60 per cent of divorces were granted based on behaviour or adultery – and the recommendation has now been made to remove fault entirely from the law, replacing it with a notification system where divorce would be available if one or both of those involved register that the marriage has broken down and that intention is confirmed by one or both parties after a minimum of six months.
Currently, if couples seeking divorce want to do so without waiting for two years, one of the parties has to submit a petition detailing how the other person is at fault. Such petitions may not be an accurate description of the breakdown of a marriage and the courts involved will not make any judgements regarding the veracity of any allegations.
Because legal aid has now been removed for the majority of cases, this means fewer people have the money in place to properly defend themselves. As such, getting a divorce simply means having to accept the court’s decision on a version of events that one party may not believe to be the truth.
“There is no evidence from this study that the current law protects marriage, and there is strong support for divorce law reform amongst the senior judiciary and the legal profession. We recommend removal of fault so that divorce is based solely on the notification, and later confirmation, by one or both spouses that the marriage has broken down.
“This should be a purely administrative process with no requirement for judicial scrutiny – in the 21st century, the state cannot, and should not, seek to decide whether someone’s marriage has broken down,” professor Liz Trinder commented.
National family justice organisation Resolution has welcomed this new study, with chair Nigel Shepherd saying that this authoritative piece of academic research should get rid of any doubt that the government has regarding a change in the law.
He explained that the current system has been this way since the start of the 1970s and actually drives a wedge between people who might be able to stay on good terms while getting divorced – bad for both them and any children that might be involved as well.
Many people are forced to “play the blame game” because of the way the law works, which can be painful and destructive, with no clear benefits for either party or the government.
Resolution itself, formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association, is made up of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals who believe that family law matters should be approached in a constructive and non-confrontational way.
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