Don't let Brexit hold up divorce reform, says family justice body

05 Apr 2019

The head of the leading family justice body in England and Wales has urged government to prioritise vital divorce law reform to reduce conflict between separating couples. The latest call for “no-fault divorce” takes place at the annual conference of Resolution, the national family justice organisation.

In a speech to over 500 leading family lawyers, Resolution’s Chair, Margaret Heathcote, warned of the dangers of letting reform fall by the wayside while MPs are tied up with debating Brexit:

“My message today to government is very simple. There are many weighty issues you’re dealing with at the moment, not least trying to negotiate your own non-confrontational divorce from the EU.

“But if you’re separating, and you’re faced with having to make unnecessary and unhelpful accusations against your ex on the divorce petition, there is nothing more important than this reform in the law.”

Founded to promote a non-confrontational approach to family issues, Resolution says now is the time for no-fault divorce to be introduced. This would allow couples to divorce without one partner having to blame the other for the relationship’s breakdown, which Resolution says would help separating families minimise arguments and conflict.

Resolution has long campaigned for no-fault divorce, which it says would bring us in line with countries like Australia and the US and go a long way in reducing the acrimony from divorce and its subsequent impact on children.

Last year, Resolution presented its response to the government’s consultation on reforming divorce law. Earlier this year the Lord Chancellor indicated the responses to the consultation had been “overwhelmingly supportive,” confirming plans to introduce legislation in the next Parliamentary session.

However, ahead of her speech, Ms Heathcote warned of the dangers in assuming no-fault divorce was a done deal:

“We’re grateful to the Lord Chancellor for his support on this issue, and hope he makes good on his plans soon. However, things change quickly in Westminster, and with the current degree of uncertainty, we’re asking him and his colleagues to make sure this change happens as soon as possible.

“Otherwise, every day that passes sees thousands of couples at risk of needless acrimony and denied the right to a kinder divorce process.”