National chair of family law organisation Resolution Nigel Shepherd is calling for UK political parties to make a commitment to modernising the family law system in the run up to the general election.
With another election fast approaching, Resolution has put forward four proposals regarding changes to family justice, focusing on the introduction of no-fault divorce, greater legal rights for cohabiting couples, increased access, and financial clarity for those going through separation.
The four proposals encourage representatives to make a commitment to:
- Allow couples to divorce without blame.
- Give cohabiting couples, who make up 10% of the population, some basic legal rights.
- Ensure there is fair access to the family justice system.
- Give people more financial clarity on divorce.
According to Mr Shepherd’s letter to the major parties, these amendments aim to “make a huge, positive difference to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people that separate each year.”
Under the current fault-based system of separation, couples are not encouraged to divorce amicably and “people often have to cite unreasonable behaviour or adultery on the divorce petition” which often leads to unnecessary animosity between separating individuals. This, in turn, can lead to increased conflict when negotiating financial settlements and children’s issues.
The proposal put forward by Mr Shepherd suggests that changes to legislation should allow for ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ to be cited as grounds for divorce. This no-fault approach could then be finalised providing one or both parties are still of this view after six months. Mr Shepherd also suggests that additional information be made available to support couples in deciding whether their marriage can be saved, and if not, which processes of separation will be best for their situation.
A recent YouGov poll revealed that 69% of people support the choice to divorce without blame. “It’s time to end the blame game,” says Mr Shepherd. “A new Parliament is a perfect opportunity for politicians to finally act on no fault divorce, regardless of the outcome on June 8th.
“This is why I have written to all major parties calling on them to make a clear commitment to modernise family law on this and other key issues for our members, such as rights for cohabiting couples, fair access to the justice system and financial clarity on divorce.
“For too long, the family justice system and family law has been out of step with modern society. These measures would not only bring make the law fit for purpose in the 21st Century, they would also make an immeasurable difference to hundreds of thousands of people who face divorce and separation each year – as well as any children they may have.
“As parliamentary candidates now head out to knock on doors, Resolution encourages anyone working in the family justice sector to ask them to support our call for change. Together we can send a clear message to the next Parliament that it’s time to modernise family law.”
divorce without blame, family law, general election, no fault divorce