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Calls For No Fault Divorces

The law should be changed to allow blame-free divorces in England according to leading charity group Resolution.

In an attempt to raise the issue prior to the General Election, the family organisation has called on the government to tackle the issue of divorce proceedings by highlighting six areas in divorce law that need improvement. According to the report from Resolution, some areas of English law regarding separation are “unmodern” and “out-dated.”

Divorce In England

Under English law, you can only seek divorce by citing unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, separation for two years with a spouse’s consent, and separation of five years without consent.

According to Resolution, unless married couples are living apart, the only way a couple can get divorced is for “one of them to apportion some form of blame.”

Resolution Report

Their report, titled “Manifesto For Family” stated that “We have a divorce system focused on blame,” provides “little support for vulnerable people going through a separation; restricted access to alternatives to court; a lack of financial clarity for couples on divorce; and no legal protection for people who split up after living together.”

Resolution believes that the divorce system in the UK damages family dynamic, with statistics revealing that half of the divorces in the UK involve at least one child. According to statistics, there are 118,000 divorces a year in the UK.

The leading family charity have proposed a revamp of the law and a redevelopment of the system with an overhaul of the divorce procedure. Resolution believe that couples should not have to cite of the five available reasons for divorce accepted by law but should be able to acknowledge that their marriage is over as a result of numerous factors, or cite other reasons.

The group states that as a result of this, there would be a greater likelihood of settling outwith court due to both parties being on the same level with one member not being blamed for the divorce.

Laws Must Change With Family Dynamics

Jo Edwards, a solicitor and Resolution’s chair, said: “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transformation in recent years – not least with the devastating cuts to legal aid – the laws governing it are woefully outdated, inadequate and unfair to many people.

“We still have this charade of having to assign blame [adultery or unreasonable behaviour] 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. Whilst families have changed, our laws have not.”

Earlier Attempts At Overhaul

English separation law has been questioned for a substantial time with the Law Commission stating in 2007 that laws should be reformed to apply to cohabiting couples in the event of a separation.

Data has shown that cohabiting families are the fastest growing family type in the UK, and the Law Commission believe that legal rights similar to marriage must be granted to those cohabiting so that they are somewhat protected by the legal system.

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