Obsolete divorce laws provoke the deliberate picking of fights

The re-emergence on the political agenda of “no-fault divorce” has been welcomed by England and Wales’ largest provider of post-divorce solutions on parenting, money and property.

National Family Mediation (NFM) Chief Executive Jane Robey says the appearance of leading divorce lawyer, Ayesha Vardag, at the recent Conservative Party Conference, throws a welcome spotlight on outdated laws that provoke separating couples to pick a fight with their ex.

Ms Vardag was at the Manchester conference to add her voice to those, including NFM, which have lobbied the government over law changes to make it easier for couples to split in a supportive and amicable way. Her appearance created widespread media attention and support from sources including controversial columnist and broadcaster Katie Hopkins. The Labour Party’s 2017 election manifesto committed to introducing no-fault divorce, but the Tories’ one did not.

Jane Robey said: “Outdated divorce laws which mean someone has to be proved ‘at fault’ - even when a couple agrees on the need to separate - creates a bidding war which then often escalates to a full-blown courtroom battle brimming with resentment and anger.

“The current legal need to prove a spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ fuels bad feeling between a couple. Very often we find that couples who, for whatever reason, have decided to separate just want to get on with it, and make a fresh start.

“These archaic laws deliberately provoke separating couples to pick a fight with their ex, to the detriment of the future of everyone in the family.”

Previous attempts to reform divorce law have failed because legislation has been introduced privately, without the weight of government backing that would see it reach the Statute Book.

Jane Robey said: “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.”