Sunday, September 10, 2006

Don't name and shame

Guardian UnlimitedBack to the serious stuff. The Guardian included a story yesterday about one of the proposed changes to the new Family Procedure Rules. This proposal would discourage or even ban the naming of co-respondents in adultery divorce petitions. I did not mention this in my previous post about the Rules because my experience is that co-respondents are very rarely named anyway (since petitioners have no longer been obliged to name them, where their identity was known) - I certainly usually try to dissuade my clients from naming them (as recommended by the Protocol), even where the client is eager to do so. However, I note with interest (and some alarm) the quote in the Guardian article from Andrew Greensmith, chairman of Resolution, that "there are some courts where judges are reluctant to accept evidence of adultery without a third party being named". This has immediately changed my view on the proposal from indifference to full support. Naming co-respondents almost always makes the divorce more complicated and increases animosity. If some courts insist upon it, then the Rules need to be changed to stop this, although I'm not sure whether there should be a complete ban, as some commentators have apparently suggested.

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