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New research could be a game-changer for no-fault divorce debate

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An important piece of research published in recent days appears to have reignited calls to introduce no-fault divorce in England and Wales.

A potentially game-changing study carried out by leading researchers at the Nuffield Foundation has revealed that adults in England and Wales are ‘exaggerating’ claims of adultery or unreasonable behaviour in order to effectively speed up the divorce process.

The report suggests that the controversial tactic is growing increasingly common in divorce cases, due to the fact that claims of adultery and unreasonable behaviour cannot fully be investigated by the Courts.

Furthermore, such claims are often difficult for the responding party to disprove.

The Nuffield Foundation’s report, entitled Finding Fault? Divorce Law and Practice in England and Wales, is the first comprehensive empirical study of its kind since the 1980s.

After examining the ways in which divorce law operates in England and Wales and reaching the above conclusions about common ‘divorce trends’, the organisation is recommending removing the concept of ‘fault’ from divorce law in England and Wales altogether.

Naturally, the call has reignited the debate regarding whether or not so-called no-fault divorce – which is popular in many other nations – should be introduced here.

Researchers from the Nuffield Foundation, led by Professor Liz Trinder of the University of Exeter, have criticised traditional divorce petitions – which they believe do not offer room for ‘accurate description’ of the reasons why a marriage has broken down.

In their landmark report, the group have laid out a blueprint for how they believe divorce law should change going forward.

They argue that a ‘notification system’ should be introduced which would see divorce ‘available’ in instances where either both parties have registered that a marriage has broken down irretrievably, or one party has registered this and the other has confirmed it within a period of six months.

Professor Trinder said that the research highlighted “strong support for divorce law reform” sooner rather than later.  

The full report can be accessed here.