Published: 2nd May 2018
According to a new report released by the Nuffield Foundation, couples within divorce proceedings are taking part in ineffective court battles that are completely unnecessary, due to the lack of no-fault divorces within England and Wales. Led by Professor Liz Trinder of Exeter University, the Nuffield Foundation conducted a study consisting of 500 divorces, finding that many of couples who has been through a divorce were forced into cases that the law itself instigated.
Playing the 'Blame Game' to Obtain a Divorce
There has long been widespread criticism of divorce and the way that those looking to obtain a divorce have to go about it, with the law often creating the need for people to blame their former partner for the breakdown of their marriage. This is apparent in the case of Owens v Owens, which is known to be the only unsuccessful divorce case in recent times, leaving Mrs Owens claiming to be trapped in a marriage that is ‘loveless and desperately unhappy’ after she was refused the ability to divorce her husband of 40 years. Professor Liz Trinder commented, saying:
“The divorce law is now nearly 50 years old and reform is long overdue. Our interviewees told us how difficult marriage breakdown is, yet the law makes the legal divorce even more difficult than it needs to be. Having to blame one person to get a divorce does not help and in most cases is unfair. And the court is not able to investigate why a marriage has broken down and recognises anyway that it is a fool’s errand. While the Supreme Court may find a way to grant Mrs Owens her divorce, [it] can only interpret the law. It requires parliament to change it. Reforming the divorce law to remove the requirement for ‘fault’ and replacing it with a notification system would be a clearer and more honest approach, that would also be fairer, more child-centred and cost-effective.”
A no-fault divorce is widely supported across the industry for a number of different reasons. Not only can it be unaffordable for people to employ adequate defence at divorce hearings, but the lack of no-fault divorce also creates further issues and disputes that such cases simply do not need, making the whole process much more difficult. A no-fault divorce would eliminate this and would make divorce proceedings much simpler and easier for already distressed individuals to navigate, with the study supporting this idea.
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