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Divorce law blog

Resolution's "Good Divorce Week" - ending the blame game

01/12/2016   By: Rebecca Auster

Resolution is a community of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Members (over 6,500!) follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems and which encourages solutions that consider the needs of the whole family - and in particular the best interests of children. Here at Mills & Reeve, our family lawyers are all proud to be members of Resolution.

This week marks Resolution’s latest awareness raising campaign – Good Divorce Week - but what is a “good divorce”?

Part of the answer lies in the current procedure for getting a divorce. At the moment, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be proved in a number different ways but, unless couples have been living apart for two years, one of them needs to apportion some form of blame – adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This often creates conflict and makes reaching a mutually acceptable financial agreement or arrangements for the children much more difficult. It all seems particularly pointless given that the reasons for divorce make no difference to any financial settlement or the arrangements for any children – they are simply to allow the divorce to proceed to the next stage. There’s no doubt it’s time to end the blame game!

Resolution proposes a new divorce procedure, where one or both partners can give notice that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The divorce can then proceed and, after a period of six months, if either or both partners still think they are making the right decision, the divorce is finalised. Resolution is not alone in calling for change. The Government’s own Family Mediation Taskforce recently recommended that divorce without blame be introduced and so have family law judges. Many other countries around the world – including Australia, the United States, and Spain – already allow for divorce without blame.

Today, as part of Good Divorce Week, over 150 Resolution members are travelling to Westminster to meet with MPs and campaign for no blame divorce. They will highlight that divorce without blame increases the chances of success for non-court dispute resolution processes as it immediately puts both partners on a level footing. In turn, this will help reduce the burden on the family courts and help the Government to meet their aim for more people to resolve their problems outside of the courts.

Divorce is rarely easy for those going through it. People will still feel hurt and they may still feel betrayed or that the breakdown of the marriage is the other’s fault. But it’s time we moved away from a legal process that actively encourages accusations that can only add to the pain. Let’s hope we get there soon.

Look out for other blogs this week highlighting Resolution’s work or follow #abetterway or #ResFamilyLaw on Twitter for updates.

Rebecca Auster

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