On 9 April 2019, the Government announced that it intends to review Divorce laws in England and Wales to allow couples to divorce without needing to ‘blame’ one another for the breakdown of their marriage.
Under the current laws, one person must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other in order to commence divorce proceedings if they have not been separated for at least two years. In 2016, the majority (60%) of divorces in England and Wales were granted on adultery and behaviour based Petitions, as opposed to only 6% in Scotland where the law is different. Arguably, the laws in England and Wales are outdated and, in our experience, the need to place blame can often have long term negative effects for clients and their families. This is because fault-based divorces can increase conflict and subsequently make it more difficult for parties to sort out arrangements for the children and finances.
Divorce can be a difficult and highly emotive process. The introduction of a no fault system should reduce conflict and animosity. A concerning 1 in 4 children (27%) said their parents tried to involve them in their separation and at Wolferstans, we agree that urgent reform is needed to reduce the impact of conflict on children.
Resolution, an organisation made up of family lawyers and other professions who promote a non-confrontational approach to resolving family disputes, have been campaigning for this change for over thirty years and welcome these proposals announced by the Government. Resolution are committed to reducing conflict in Divorce proceedings.
As family lawyers and members of Resolution, at Wolferstans, we adhere to the Resolution Code of Conduct and strive to help our clients deal with the consequences of relationship breakdown with as little acrimony as possible so that clients can try to maintain a relationship for the benefit of their children in the future and avoid unnecessary conflict. Research suggests that 90% of family law professionals agree that the current law makes it harder for them to reduce conflict and confrontation between clients and their ex-partners.
At Wolferstans, we also have three solicitors who are trained to run cases through the Collaborative Law process. The Collaborative Law process aims to allow clients to resolve matters concerning family breakdown away from Court. Both parties have their own collaboratively trained lawyer and the parties meet to try and agree a way forward. This process enables the parties to work together in an amicable way to achieve the best possible outcome for their family. The end of needing to blame someone for the breakdown of their marriage will assist this even further.
Resolution are working with the Ministry of Justice to ensure the law is changed at the earliest opportunity. The Government are yet to confirm when these changes are likely to be introduced. However, the announcement that the law will be reviewed is a big step towards this.