Contact Law blog

Is it time to modernise our divorce laws?

Many married couples who discover that their marriage is not working struggle with the idea of getting divorced. This is particularly true because one party will have to take the blame for the marriage ending, as the divorce has to be the cause of one party’s questionable behaviour.

However, this adversarial system is now being called into question. The highest family law judge for England and Wales, Sir Nicholas Wall, has said that it is time for the law to change. The President of the high court’s family division has said that he considers that it would be appropriate to introduce a system of no-fault divorce.

In a recent speech Wall highlighted that attributing blame on one party comes from the notion that one of the parties should be seen as innocent in the process. This stems from previous times where being a divorcee was seen as a stigma.

Wall said that he does believe in marriage and that supporting no-fault divorce was not incompatible with this.

Elements of a divorce

For many couples the process of getting divorced is filled with distress and many struggle with accepting that their relationship has come to an end. It may not always be the fault of one party but it may be the result of the couple having drifted apart.

The division of assets and arrangements for children will require the help of solicitors who can ensure that both sides’ interests are looked after. Divorce is often a difficult time for all involved and, beyond the emotional stress, the parties commonly choose to get separate households. This can have a negative impact on their respective personal finances.

Arrangements will also have to be made for any joint children. This will often include agreeing on custody and whether any non-resident parent should contribute financially by paying child maintenance.

After a divorce

Once the divorce has been granted and concluded either party is free to remarry. In relation to any joint children, there is no change in the parental status of either party. Both parents maintain parental responsibility, save for in exceptional circumstances.

The division of assets will largely depend on whether there was a prenuptial agreement. Preferably such an agreement will have been drafted by a solicitor, in order to ensure that both parties’ interests are looked after.

The current system does not put either party at a disadvantage in relation to the division of assets, but the new system would take away the stigma of blame.

Do you think that no-fault divorce should be introduced?

Related story:

Guardian

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