A divorce system fit for the modern world

Photo by Timon Klauser on Unsplash

I can’t remember exactly when I first became a supporter of no-fault divorce. It was probably around 1990, at about the time I joined Resolution, or the Solicitors Family Law Association, as it was then called.

It has been a long and rocky road since.

The case for a divorce system that did not attribute blame for the breakdown of the marriage always seemed so clear to me. The marriage was over - that was a fact, and the parties did not need the court to give them a reason for the breakdown, let alone open wounds that should have been left to heal.

And yet when parliament debated the reform back in the 1990s the opposition was loud and vociferous, with the result that we ended up with something that was eventually admitted to be unworkable. (I recall attending a seminar on the new system, and even the learned speaker confessed to being baffled as to how the new system was supposed to operate.)

Twenty-four years later, and so much has changed. The opposition to reform expressed by a few MPs at the second reading debate of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill on Monday was lukewarm and sparse. Whilst I may not agree with all of its details, real, workable, reform is finally within our grasp.

There is of course still much work to be done to improve our family justice system (I think for example of the introduction of basic financial protections for cohabitees), but at least we are finally going to get a divorce system fit for the modern world.