Published: 29 April 2016
In his first speech in his new role as chair of national family law organisation Resolution, Nigel Shepherd has called for family lawyers to continue to lobby for ‘no fault’ divorces in England and Wales. The introduction of a no fault divorce system would be a positive move that would benefit many couples who are divorcing on ‘amicable’ terms – as we have discussed in a previous blog.
Addressing more than 400 family law representatives at Resolution's annual conference in Gateshead, Mr Shepherd said that he felt it was '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'.
He also referenced a recent survey carried out by Resolution which highlights that 25% of all divorcing couples apply false blame on their divorce petitions in order to help them to complete the process and called for Resolution and its members to continue to put pressure on the government to adopt a faultless divorce system.
Mr Shepherd 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 also described the current legal aid system as 'a bloody disgrace' and said that he would continue to challenge the government over no fault divorce and that a review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) must be carried out as soon as possible – which the conference audience applauded.
Resolution has been an active campaigner for changes to divorce law in England and Wales, with outgoing chair Jo Edwards writing to the Prime Minister to ask for a commitment towards no fault divorce earlier this year. At the conference, Ms Edwards received special praise for her achievements as chair over the past two years, with Mr Shepherd describing her as a 'great ambassador' for Resolution and for family justice.
Mr Shepherd also paid tribute to Resolution's members for their ongoing support and commitment to reducing family conflict, saying that he was 'proud of the work the members do to protect the vulnerable and abused.'
The No Fault Divorce Bill 2015-16 was introduced to Parliament on 13th October 2015 by Conservative MP Richard Bacon to allow couples to divorce without assigning blame.
The current divorce law in England and Wales states that a couple wishing to divorce can do so providing that the reason meets one of five criteria which include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for two years or more or the couple has been separated and living apart continuously for either two or five years.
The second reading of the No Fault Divorce Bill 2015-2016 is due to take place at the House of Commons on 13th May 2016.
If you are thinking about separation or divorce then K J Smith Solicitors can help. As a member of the organisation Resolution, K J Smith Solicitors will strive to deliver a positive outcome without conflict and in the most amicable way possible. For more information or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation with a member of our team, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) or 01483 370100 (Guildford).