Outdated divorce laws create bidding war of couples’ anger: charity

Jane Robey
Outdated divorce laws which mean someone has to be proved ‘at fault’ - even when a couple agrees on the need to separate – creates a ‘bidding war’ of resentment and anger, says a leading family charity.

As new research indicates courts can actually create conflict and encourage litigation, National Family Mediation (NFM) is renewing calls on Ministers to reform family law by introducing ‘no fault’ divorce.

“The current legal need to prove a spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ itself fuels bad feeling between a couple,” says Jane Robey, NFM’s CEO.

Referring to the new research from The Nuffield Foundation, she says “For anyone who’s worked in family law, or has been through a divorce, it’s a case of ‘tell us something we didn’t already know.’

“We know from experience that very often a couple that has decided to separate just wants to get on with it, so they can make a fresh start. Yet outdated laws that mean someone has to be proved at fault creates a bidding war which then often escalates to a full-blown courtroom battle.

“This is a huge issue. Over 100,000 couples divorce each year. For each and every adult involved, let alone the children, the stress, time and expense involved is staggering.”

Noting the Queen’s Speech is likely to take place next month, she points out previous failed attempts to reform divorce law because legislation has been introduced privately, without the weight of government backing that would see it reach the Statute Book.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. If the government took the opportunity to bring forward its own legislation for no-fault divorce, time would be allocated and the Bill would be passed.

“For Ministers it’s not a question of the volume of people affected, or the impact of legislative change. That’s undeniable. It’s one of will. It’s high time for Ministers to take long-awaited steps to divorce reform,” she concludes in a new article for Huffington Post.

You can read the article in full here.