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The head of the family law association Resolution has said that a recent court case has pressed home the importance of introducing a “blame-free” divorce process.
Nigel Shepherd, the organisation’s current chairman, was speaking out after The Economist published an article examining the options for overhauling the system.
In its piece from an edition earlier this month, the magazine noted a number of previous attempts to reform the divorce procedure; attempts which had ultimately proven unsuccessful.
“In 1996 the Government tried to introduce no-fault divorce, but the legislation was repealed in 2001 after requirements on the parties to attend ‘information meeting’ to encourage reconciliation proved unworkable,” said The Economist.
“In 2015, Richard Bacon, a Conservative MP, introduced a Private Members’ Bill proposing no-fault divorce with a year’s cooling-off period, but it failed to get a second reading.”
Despite these setbacks, Mr Shepherd took heart from the fact that the issue was once again being debated in the national media.
While Resolution has been one of the most ardent supporters of change, having urged successive governments to take action, they insist that the wider public also supports reform.
“A recent YouGov poll found 69 per cent believing ‘people should be able to seek a divorce without having to show their spouse is at fault’,” said Mr Shepherd.
“The current Owens v Owens case illustrates why reform is urgently needed. It is simply wrong that in 2017 anyone can be forced to remain in a marriage that they no longer wish to be in. Current divorce law, as demonstrated in this case, so often introduces or exaggerates conflict in family disputes.
“The Government needs to remove the need for blame from the divorce process at the earliest opportunity. Not only would it create a more civilised approach to family separation, it would also help it achieve its objective of helping more couples resolve issues out of court.”