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Divorce: is it Time the System Changed?

Divorce has been a much-discussed topic over the past week! The recently-appointed chair of family law group Resolution, Nigel Shepherd, used his inaugural speech to lambast the absence of no-fault divorces in English and Welsh law, whilst recently divorced former-footballer Gary Lineker’s statements concerning the extortionate cost of divorce and the underhanded tricks employed by solicitors garnered significant column inches. On reflection, they both had entirely valid points.

The need to blame one party in order to get a divorce is both archaic and unnecessarily harmful. Worse yet, this system is ripe for exploitation, with unscrupulous solicitors able to foster rancour within their clients in order to prolong proceedings and milk them for all they’re worth. Not all solicitors will engage in such behaviour, of course. Indeed, it will most likely be a minority that act in such a heinous manner, but as a bad-tempered divorce is likely to have an adverse and life-long effect on those involved, particularly children, such individuals must be stopped! Any legislation that could lessen the likelihood of them manipulating their clients should therefore be given due consideration – starting with the introduction of no-fault divorce.

As it currently stands, any couple that has not lived separately for at least two years must rely on the fault-based grounds of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour in order to end their marriages. It is because of this, and the fact that one spouse must blame another when these circumstances apply, that many, many couples are unduly influenced by their representatives and otherwise amicable separations become highly rancorous. Remove blame from the divorce process entirely, however, and those that would seek to exploit distressed parties for financial gain are stripped of arguably their most potent weapon!

Traditionalists will argue that this will make divorce too easy, of course, but such arguments are easily countered: no one takes the decision to divorce lightly and, more importantly, fault-based divorce clearly does more harm than good!


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