The recent case of a woman who was told an unhappy relationship was not a good enough reason for a court to grant a divorce highlighted the outdated legislation that regulates marriage.
Tini Owens, from Worcestershire, had sought to escape her 37-year wedlock with Hugh Owens, 78, but the Court of Appeal decided that her unhappiness was insufficient to grant a decree nisi.
Now, a leading family charity is renewing calls for ministers to introduce ‘no fault’ divorces in a bid to make the separation process less painful for both parties.
The current rules force one spouse to accept fault, even when the couple agrees on the need to split up, causing a “bidding war” of resentment and anger, according to National Family Mediation (NFM).
“The current legal need to prove a spouse’s unreasonable behaviour itself fuels bad feeling between a couple,” says Jane Robey, NFM Chief Executive Officer.
“We know from experience that very often a couple that has decided to separate just wants to get on with it, so they can make a fresh start. Yet outdated laws that mean someone has to be proved at fault creates a bidding war which then often escalates to a full-blown courtroom battle.
“This is a huge issue. Over 100,000 couples divorce each year. For each and every adult involved, let alone the children, the stress, time and expense involved is staggering.”
Previous attempts to reform divorce law failed because legislation was introduced privately, without the weight of government backing.
Recent research funded by the Nuffield Foundation and carried out at Exeter University found that most divorces are based on “fault” in which one party blames the other for the marriage breakdown. Courts cannot test if allegations are true or not and few are rejected.
How can Gotelee help?
While potential changes to divorce laws are still some way off, there is another way to reduce the acrimony often associated with divorce. Mediation can help resolve disputes when relationships break down, discussing the options available in relation to divorce proceedings.
Ivana Radovic, Gotelee’s trained mediator, has a wealth of experience in working with couples to find a solution suitable to both parties, including solving issues around living in the same property, making arrangements for children and resolving long-term financial settlements.
To find out more, contact Ivana on 01473 298158 or email [email protected]