The misuse of England’s divorce system
Recent research suggests that thousands of divorcing couples make false, or at the very least exaggerated, allegations against each other to obtain speedy divorces under England’s outdated divorce procedure: and the other spouse accepts this in almost all cases.
It is claimed that about 27% of petitions include such claims because the current divorce law requires one person to provide brief details of adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other to obtain a divorce, rather than wait for two years from the marriage breakdown.
Resolution, the national family solicitor’s group, carried out the research, which supports a Ten Minute Motion brought by Conservative MP Richard Bacon to change the law.
It found that more than a quarter of divorcing couples asserting blame in their petitions admitted that the allegations of fault were untrue. They made the allegation because it was the easiest option.
Ian Downing, family law partner at GA Solicitors, commented: “Solicitors cannot advise clients to lie, but it is commonly accepted that the court requires only a modest level of allegations for a petition to succeed, and if one person raises an allegation that the other decides not to contest – probably because they also do not wish to wait for two years for a divorce – the petition is likely to go through uncontested.”
Jo Edwards, chairwoman of Resolution, said her organisation supported Bacon’s bill, which “will have a positive impact on thousands of families in England and Wales”.
“It’s not about making divorce easier;” she said. “It’s about making it easier for people to resolve their issues on separation and move on with their lives after divorce. The current system is causing couples to make false allegations in court in order to have their divorce finalised within a reasonable time. This charade needs to be ended.”