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Action needed on family law reforms, says Sir James Munby

View profile for Gurdip Brring
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Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, has voiced concerns that action is urgently needed on a number of proposed reforms to family law in England in Wales.

Addressing the Law School at the University of Edinburgh in recent days, Mr Munby said that change was needed in areas such as no-fault divorce and cohabitants’ rights.

On the first issue, he said that no-fault divorce was needed in order to help women who are “trapped in a loveless marriage.”

Referring to the recent case of Owens v Owens, whereby a woman caught in these circumstances was consistently refused a divorce from her “loveless” husband because she could not prove to the Courts that the relationship had irretrievably broken down, he said that the law was “very badly in need of reform” in this area.

Mrs Tini Owens, who recently lost her challenge at the Court of Appeal, is expected to appear before the Supreme Court in the summer.

On the issue of cohabitants’ rights, Sir James Munby said that reform in this area was also “desperately needed” and should be “inevitable” in light of the increasing popularity of cohabitation in the UK.

“The frequency of the occasions on which the problem has been considered by the House of Lords and, more recently, the Supreme Court over the best part of 50 years, has demonstrated that, whatever the degree of judicial ingenuity, neither the common law nor equity is capable of producing an effective remedy,” he said.

Mr Munby’s full speech can be accessed here.

MFG Solicitors’ family team advise on divorce, separation and all other aspects of family law, including cohabitation. For more information about how we could help you, please contact us.