We are hopeful, here at Onions & Davies Ltd, that long-awaited divorce reform is afoot as news is released that there is to be a public consultation on introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce.
As explained in our blog earlier this year, ‘End the Blame Game’ in order to obtain a divorce in England and Wales at present, an applicant must demonstrate to the Family court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and she/he does that by relying on 1 of 5 facts: adultery, desertion, 2 years’ separation with consent, 5 years’ separation or so-called unreasonable behaviour.
Our Louise Martin, Head of Family, family mediator, and member of Resolution: First for Family Law, says of the news
“it is about time that we are able to rely on divorce law which assists family practitioners to take the heat out of what is very often an emotionally-fuelled process, and lay the focus on achieving for our clients a workable, fair and child-focused resolution”.
Tini Owens’ case demonstrates in all its glory the absurdity of not being able to access a remedy under our legal system in 2018 because, under current divorce law, she has been unable to convince the Court of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour.
At the time we published our blog ‘End the Blame Game’ back in June, Mrs Owens was awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court which has now been delivered. She was unsuccessful as the Supreme Court unanimously rejected her appeal, and she is now forced to remain married to her estranged husband until she qualifies to divorce him based on 5 years’ separation in 2020. It was the plight of Mrs Owens which has highlighted the need for reform, with Supreme Court President Lady Hale commenting herself on the issue, but noting that legislation is what is needed to effect change.
Resolution continue to campaign for no-fault divorce under the hashtag #abetterway and the country will be hard pressed to find a family practitioner today who would not be pleased to see it in practice!