Speaking in front of 400 family lawyers at Resolution’s annual conference in Gateshead, Mr Shepherd said “it’s wrong – and actually bordering on cruel – to say to couples: if you want to move on with your lives…. one of you has to blame the other”.
It is the latest in a growing number of calls from Resolution, who represent 6,500 family lawyers in England and Wales, for reform to divorce law to allow for no fault divorce. Earlier this year Resolution’s outgoing chair Jo Edwards wrote to the Prime Minister asking for a commitment towards no fault divorce to be made in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.
Mr Shepherd pointed to recent polling by Resolution that found a quarter of all divorcing couples falsify blame on their petition in order to complete the separation, and said Resolution and its members would continue to press Government ministers on the case for change. He said: “The blame game needs to end, and it needs to end now. We will continue to make the case to Government, supported by charities, the judiciary and the many others who support no fault divorce”.
He further signalled his intention to be an active challenger of the Government by labelling the current legal aid system “a bloody disgrace” and said, to the applause of the conference, that the Government must carry out its review into the impact of LASPO at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mr Shepherd, who was previously Chair of Resolution in 1997, also paid tribute to Resolution’s members and their commitment to reducing family conflict and helping parents to put their children first. He said that he was “proud of the work our members do to protect the vulnerable and abused”.
Jo Edwards, the outgoing Chair of Resolution, received special praise for the achievements of her two years in post. Ms Edwards, he said, had taken Resolution from “strength to strength” and been a great ambassador for the organisation and for family justice.
The Resolution conference is an annual two-day event for its members to come together and discuss the latest developments in family law and identify practical ways to support people going through separation.