Family lawyers will be delighted to learn that a drive towards no-fault divorce is once again on the cards via a significant new research project supported by Resolution. Back in the 90s we came really close to a change in the law, allowing couples to divorce without having to blame each other. Amid outcries of ‘we can’t make divorce too easy’ (as if it ever is!) the new law was scrapped before implementation. The whole premise of ‘fault’ is based on the outdated notion of divorce being ‘shameful’ and the wronged party needing to prove their ‘innocence’. Times have indeed changed: being an amicably divorced divorce lawyer myself, I smile when I recall sharing the news with my young son at the time. ‘Why can’t we call it ‘getting demarried?’ he asked me: ‘divorce is a horrible word’. Ms Paltrow’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ may have a great deal to commend it. Lets hope this research – when it arrives – gets the ear of the law-changers, and soon!
A new research study exploring how the current law for divorce & civil partnership dissolution operates in practice is due to commence in Oct 2015.
The research is being undertaken by Liz Trinder of Exeter University , funded by the Nuffield Foundation. A majority of divorce petitions in England & Wales still rely on allegations of fault, mainly behaviour and adultery. Research in the 1990s suggested that the use of fault had the potential to cause or exacerbate hostility between the parties, whilst not saving marriages. There is an increasing gap between the painful requirement on parties to produce evidence of fault and the reality of rather limited inquiries by the court. The aim of the research is to explore how the current law operates in practice & to inform debate about whether and how the law might be reformed.