Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich
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No fault divorce – can it really become a reality?

July 2017 - Issue 4

The issue of no fault divorce was thrust into the public spotlight back in February this year in the case of Owens v Owens [2017] EWCA Civ 182 in which many of the judiciary’s top brass, including Lord Wilson of the Supreme Court, Sir Paul Coleridge of the Marriage Foundation and Sir Nicholas Wall all gave their backing to the current divorce law reform.  In the media The Economist recently asserted reform was long overdue and there has also been positive coverage in many of the newspapers.  Even family practitioners on the ground have taken it upon themselves to lobby Government to talk to MPs about the need for reform.

The recent case of Owens v Owens in which the wife was disallowed to divorce her husband on “insufficient grounds” underlines the need for a no fault divorce arguably more than any other – it was clear that the Judges made their decision with a very heavy heart, the upshot of which has left the wife ‘trapped in a loveless marriage’.  This highlights exactly why the law needs to change – it is simply wrong in this day and age that someone should be forced to stay in a loveless marriage because the behaviour in the divorce petition was not deemed ‘unreasonable’ enough.  There are on average more than 110,000 divorces each year and everyday the Government delays in considering the change in the law.  More than 300 couples get divorced which makes 600 people each day running the gauntlet of a system that actively encourages conflict and blame.  Research into this area has concluded that a single system of notification of intent to divorce would be clearer, more honest and neutral between the petitioner and respondent.  The latest, as I understand it, is that the Government are giving ‘due consideration’ to the prospect of reform, alongside other family justice changes.  I hope to be able to revert back to this topic in later newsletters with an update but until then the grounds of adultery and behaviour continue to bulk out the majority of divorce petitions issued in the UK which will leave family lawyers doing their best to defuse the current acrimony that can often bubble to the surface once a petition has been presented on one of these two grounds.

Matthew Clemence

Senior Associate, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator

e mclemence@prettys.co.uk

t 01473 298337



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