Family law association Resolution has thrown its weight behind calls to make no-fault divorce the “default” arrangement in England and Wales.
The organisation has responded to the publication of research by the Nuffield Foundation last week, which consulted thousands of divorcees, family law professionals and senior members of the judiciary.
Resolution’s response is no surprise given that it has been a long-time advocate of no fault divorce proceedings, which are already in place in some other jurisdictions. It has hailed the latest research as a “wake-up call” for politicians.
Resolution’s chairman Nigel Shepherd said: “This authoritative, academic research should eliminate any doubt from government that the law needs to change.
“Fault-based divorces don’t reflect the reality of relationship breakdown for the majority of couples and do nothing to help them deal constructively with the consequences – indeed they often have the adverse effect of inciting additional conflict between separating partners.”
He noted that the current system of divorce has been unchanged since the 1970s and argued that the set-up often serves to drive a wedge between couples who would otherwise be on good terms during their separation.
“This is bad for them and bad for their children,” Mr Shepherd added. “It is also wholly at odds both with government rhetoric, and with the approach Resolution members take under our Code of Practice.
“At present, many divorcing couples are forced to play the ‘blame game’ – citing examples of unreasonable behaviour or adultery, long after the relationship has broken down, simply to satisfy an archaic requirement on the divorce petition which has its roots in laws drawn up more than a generation ago.”
No-fault divorce is also supported by the new President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Family Division, the Chair of the Marriage Foundation, and the Family Mediation Task Force.
While Resolution made a fresh push to put the issue on the agenda last year, members admitted they were frustrated that they had yet to persuade MPs to allocate time to discuss the possibility of reform.