Published: 23 February 2015
Family law organisation Resolution will today launch their family law manifesto which will call for drastic changes to divorce and separation laws in England and Wales.
Resolution, who represent 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals throughout the country, are campaigners for improvements to family law legislation and believe in promoting a more amicable and constructive approach to family law matters.
The Manifesto, which will launch today in Central London by Chair of Resolution Jo Edwards and Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes, has identified several key areas for change in current divorce and separation law.
They will call on the government to better protect vulnerable people who are going through separation, to help them understand the impact divorce can have on their financial situation and to introduce new measures to help keep divorcing couples out of the family courts.
Resolution have been calling for reform to legislation for many years on all aspects of family law, but in particular they want to protect the rights of cohabiting couples and they believe that divorce should be without blame.
With cohabitation being the largest growing type of family in the UK, there still aren't sufficient laws to protect cohabiting couples and many are unaware of the risks they face should they decide to separate, as they believe they will have similar rights to married couples, due to misconceptions around 'common-law marriage'.
Jo Edwards said, "In 2007, the Law Commission recommended reforming the laws that apply to cohabitants if they separate. We now have nearly 6 million unmarried people living together, many of whom are still under the illusion that they have the same rights as married couples if they separate."
"I’m sorry to say that, whilst families have changed, our laws have not."
"Divorce without blame was actually provided for in the 1996 Family Law Act, but was never enacted and actually repealed just last year. We still have this charade of having to assign blame if you want a divorce and haven’t been separated for at least two years – even if both spouses agree their marriage is at an end. This is a huge barrier to amicable dispute resolution and unnecessarily introduces conflict into the process. There have been repeated calls for no-fault divorce from the judiciary and policy makers."
Resolution have also drawn up a new Parenting Charter with the help of the Family Justice Young People's Board, aimed at helping parents to understand their responsibilities to their children when they separate and to help children to know what to expect if their parents are going through a divorce.
"Our Parenting Charter aims to remind divorcing or separating parents that children are individuals with their own rights to information and a voice during the separation process", said Jo Edwards.
She added, "Parents can get caught up in the heat of the moment during divorce and start thinking of their former partner as the enemy, and not as the mother or father of their child. People often think about children’s interests in the sense of their material wellbeing – but it’s the emotional impact of seeing their parents in conflict that creates lasting psychological scars for children."
To further highlight the lasting impact divorce can have on children, Resolution recently conducted a survey of young people who have had parents go through a separation or divorce. The results of the survey highlight the devastating psychological impact divorce and separation can have on young people, with 13% saying that they experimented or thought about experimenting with drugs and 14% admitting that they started drinking or drank more alcohol then they had previously as a result of their parents break-up.
Jo Edwards added, "Divorce can be one of the most traumatic life events a family can go through, and we all have a responsibility to ensure it’s dealt with in a way that minimises conflict, encourages amicable solutions where possible, and – most importantly – puts the needs of children first."
"The fact is that, despite the family justice system going through a period of huge transformation in recent years – not least with the devastating cuts to legal aid – the laws governing it are woefully outdated, inadequate and unfair to many people."
"With nearly a quarter of a million people getting divorced each year and around 100,000 children seeing their parent's divorce, our laws are in desperate need of change."
For more information about the Resolution Manifesto, please click here.
If you are thinking or divorce or separation, then K J Smith Solicitors can help. We are members of Resolution and we believe in their ethos of resolving conflict in a constructive and positive way.
Our team of family law experts will work with you to deliver practical solutions and the best possible outcome. For more information, contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley-on-Thames), 020 7070 0330 (Central London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor) or 01256 584000 (Basingstoke).