The current family law in England and Wales states that the only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’, meaning that there has to be some element of blame in order for a divorce application to proceed. The marriage breaking down can be proved in a number of different ways including adultery or the conduct of one or both of the parties, however; this is not always the case. According to Resolution’s poll results, a quarter of all divorcing couples have been forced to falsify blame in order to complete the application. For those separated for more than two years, the option to proceed without blame is available, however; financial and children arrangements often cannot be put on hold for two years.
Resolution claims that this is unacceptable and further increases tensions and conflict during a life-changing and distressing time. Conflicts resulting from the allocation of blame can then hinder the progress of negotiations and agreements regarding children and financial arrangements, making the whole process lengthier than it needs to be. Therefore, lobbying for a ‘no-fault divorce’ is top of the agenda for the organisation with their current campaign, ‘Changing Family Law for Changing Families’ focusing on modernising the law to reflect the current needs of 21st century families.
The chair of Resolution, Nigel Shephard, said in a statement that: ‘The blame game needs to end, and it needs to end now. We will continue to make the case to the government, supported by charities, the judiciary and the many others who support no fault divorce.’
Also addressed in their campaign is the need for the improvement of laws regarding the increasing number of couples choosing to co-habit. Currently, if their relationship breaks down they are often left without legal protection, Resolution claims this does not reflect the modern society that we live in.
Finally, the campaign calls for clarification regarding pre-nuptials in order to offer more protection to couples who have assets that they want to protect when entering into a marriage. Resolution notes that many people are marrying later or marrying for a second time and therefore, a major cause for concern is the financial arrangements if they were to separate. The reality of pre-nuptial agreements is that they are not formally recognised in any piece of legislation and therefore, the case law developments affects the advice that lawyers can offer clients. They call for more clarity to make pre-nuptial agreements more enforceable and therefore, increase their recognition as a tool to protect financial arrangements.
For more information please click visit the Resolution’s website.