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Family Law

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Resolution , 04 DEC 2015

Resolution urges MPs 'to get behind' no-fault divorce

Resolution urges MPs 'to get behind' no-fault divorce

Today (4 December 2015) MPs are due to debate the introduction of no-fault divorce, as Richard Bacon MP’s No Fault Divorce Bill has its second reading. Leading family law organisation Resolution is urging MPs to support the principle of no fault divorce if they are serious about reducing family conflict and the ongoing impact of divorce.

Resolution chair Jo Edwards says:

'We know that our current fault-based divorce system achieves nothing besides escalating conflict during divorce. It does not act as a deterrent, nor does it help couples to salvage their marriage. The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 114,720 people divorced in England and Wales in 2013, despite fault-based petitions.
We are pleased to see Richard Bacon’s bill having a second reading. If MPs are serious about reducing family conflict and the trauma that can be caused by divorce, I would urge them to support the bill as a welcome step towards removing the requirement of fault from divorce.
Removing the blame from divorce, as proposed in Richard Bacon’s bill, would help couples who both wish to bring their relationship to a dignified conclusion and move on with their lives without the need for accusatory mud-slinging. This outdated system needs urgent revision – a civilised society deserves a civilised divorce process.'

Recent research published by Resolution shows that the fault-based nature of divorce in England and Wales, which requires one person to accuse the other of adultery or unreasonable behaviour to have their divorce granted within two years of marriage breakdown, is driving over a quarter (27%) of divorcing couples to make false allegations to the court.

Resolution’s research, carried out by YouGov (June 2015), found that:

  • 52% of divorce petitions were fault-based alleging either unreasonable behaviour or adultery

  • 27% of divorcing couples who asserted blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegation of fault wasn’t true, but was the easiest option

Resolution has campaigned for many years for the introduction of no-fault divorce, which was provided for in the Family Law Act 1996 but never implemented. Resolution has produced a briefing on no fault divorce which has been sent to MPs ahead of tomorrow’s debate.

Resolution’s Manifesto for Family Law, endorsed by leading relationship and legal organisations including Relate, One Plus One, Only Dads and the Family Law Bar Association, calls for the removal of blame from the divorce process, bringing England and Wales into line with other modern jurisdictions including the United States, Australia and Spain.

New research exploring how the current law on the ground for divorce and civil partnership dissolution operates in practice is currently being undertaken by Liz Trinder of Exeter University.

For more details visit her Finding Fault website and read her recently published article, 'In anticipation of a temporary blip: Would a change in the divorce law increase the divorce rate?', in which she analyses the existing research on whether divorce law reform has any impact on the numbers divorcing.

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