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19 October 2015 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion

Divorce laws force couples to lie about the reasons for their separation

Posted by , Partner

Thousands of divorcing couples are lying to the courts every year due to divorce laws which pit people against one another, the family law organisation Resolution has warned.

Of the 118,000 divorces in England and Wales every year, 57 per cent involve one partner accusing the other of unreasonable behaviour or adultery. In current English law, these are two of the five possible ways to demonstrate the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. Others include desertion, separation for two years with consent and separation for five years with no consent needed.

Reasons cited can range from domestic abuse to drug addiction, alcoholism and gambling problems.

But more than 27 per cent of couples citing unreasonable behaviour admitted their claims were not true, but were the easiest way of getting a divorce, according to new research by Resolution – which represents almost 5,000 family solicitors.

Jo Edwards, the chair of the legal body, said: “As our research findings show, the current system is causing couples to make false allegations in court in order to have their divorce finalised within a reasonable time. This charade needs to be ended.

“The alternative, living for two years as a separated couple before divorce proceedings can be started, is financially and emotionally untenable for many people.”

This means that people “resort to agreeing to make an untrue allegation in court of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, in order to move on with their lives,” according to Ms Edwards.

Meanwhile the Conservative MP for South Norfolk has proposed the inclusion of no fault divorce in English law, meaning couples would not have to cite a reason for the breakdown of their marriage.

Richard Bacon is set to introduce a ten minute rule bill to raise the issue. In such bills, backbenchers are limited to a ten minute speech when they first put their ideas to the House of Commons.

Mr Bacon said that “couples who do not want to apportion blame may be pushed by the law along a path they do not wish to take” under the current rules.

And Chris Sherwood, chief executive of Relate, said: “The current fault-based system is outdated – it can undermine the work being done to encourage couples to resolve disputes out of court and detract from efforts to ensure families are able to establish positive co-parenting relationships beyond separation…What we now need is to move away from a system which encourages false allegations and conflict towards a way of working which supports honesty and collaboration.”

To find out more about the family services we provide, please contact Patrick Hart from our Family Law team today.

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