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Divorce law – time for a change

Published by Mark Tattersall in Marriage · 11/1/2018 16:35:09

Under current English law, unless you have lived separately from your spouse for at least two years, you may only issue divorce proceedings on the basis your spouse’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This effectively forces spouses into making allegations of unreasonable behaviour if they want the marriage dissolving reasonably quickly (for example, because they wish to resolve the financial issues arising from its breakdown). This, in turn, causes bitterness, when a spouse who receives a divorce petition based on their alleged unreasonable behaviour feels that it misrepresents the situation. Research recently published by the University of Exeter found that 43% of spouses who had been identified as being at fault by their spouse disagreed with the reasons cited for the marriage breakdown.  Also 62% of those applying for the divorce and 78% of those against whom the divorce proceedings were issued said that, in their experience, having to use “fault” had made the process more bitter. One of the academics involved in the research has said “This study shows that we already have something tantamount to immediate unilateral divorce ‘on demand’, but masked by an often painful, and sometimes destructive, legal ritual with no obvious benefits for the parties of the state. A clearer and more honest approach, that would also be fairer, more child-centred and cost-effective, would be to reform the law to remove fault entirely”. Wise words.  




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