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New research adds weight to calls for no-fault divorce

View profile for Gurdip Brring
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An interesting new study into divorce trends in England and Wales suggests that existing divorce laws are elongating and exacerbating difficult divorce disputes, as couples are too often unable to split without proving in Court who has caused the marriage to ‘irretrievably’ break down.

Research carried out by the Nuffield Foundation in collaboration with professors from Exeter University recently analysed some 500 divorce cases before reaching the above conclusion – which adds weight to ongoing calls for the introduction of no-fault divorce in England and Wales.

“Our interviewees told us how difficult marriage breakdown is, yet the law makes the legal divorce even more difficult than it needs to be,” said study leader Professor Liz Trinder, of Exeter University.

“Having to blame one person to get a divorce does not help and, in most cases, is unfair,” she said.

Under existing laws, the ‘irretrievable breakdown of a marriage’ is the only ground for divorce in England and Wales if a couple wishes to split without having to separate first and live apart for a minimum of two years.

Professor Trinder noted that these laws are “now nearly 50 years old and reform is long overdue.”

She said: “Reforming the divorce law to remove the requirement for ‘fault’ and replacing it with a notification system would be a clearer and more honest approach, that would also be fairer, more child-centred and cost-effective.”

Jo Edwards, former Chair of family law foundation resolution, shared a similar sentiment. She said that fault-based divorce was “futile” and that urgent reform was needed.

The study’s findings come just weeks after Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, stood up at a legal policy forum in Westminster and outwardly backed calls for no-fault divorce.

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