The Law Society has responded this week to a government consultation about “no- fault” divorce. It is backing no fault divorce and has also called for the reinstatement of legal aid for separating couples.
The government launched this consultation process following the case of Owen v Owen and the national debate that ensued. The consultation is looking at the possibility of introducing a system of “no fault” divorce in this jurisdiction.
At the moment the person applying for a divorce (the Petitioner) has to allege one of five facts. Two of those faces require the parties to have lived separately and apart for a certain period of time and the remaining three require blame to be attributed to the other person (the Respondent).
By taking away the need for the Petitioner to attribute blame for the marriage breakdown, it is hoped that this will avoid or at least reduce confrontation between separating couples and enable them to focus on the more important issues that they need to deal with, such as arrangements for any children and finances.
The Law Society also suggests that legal problems such as divorce are made more difficult because of the cuts to Legal Aid for family law which were introduced in 2013. This has meant that people are less likely to be able to access legal advice at the outset of their difficulties and so are less aware for example of their rights and the availability of Mediation or how to access it.
The Law Society believes that legal aid cuts have meant that less people are seeking legal advice and representation regarding the issues that can flow from marital breakdown, such as sorting out finances, the house and arrangements for the children. Instead more people are having to represent themselves in Court proceedings and are unsurprisingly not familiar with the court process.
In the Law Society’s view, not only have the changes in availability of Legal Aid not reduced the number of people going to court, they have caused more pressure on the courts because they now have to deal with more cases and more delays caused by those acting without lawyers being unfamiliar with the procedures.
If you are considering a divorce or separation and need legal advice and assistance the family law team at Jordans can help. It is important that you seek advice at an early stage as to do so could save money in the long run. Reaching an agreement with your ex at an early state can reduce tensions and problems and potentially avoid the need for expensive applications to court.
The result of the consultation on divorce remains to be seen. The majority of families’ lawyers support the idea of no-fault divorce. Perhaps 2019 will be the year for these reforms whereby we will see a less confrontational approach to divorce?
If you require advice or assistance in relation to any of these issues or other family law matters at Jordans Solicitors we have a dedicated family law team who can help. Please call us free on 0330 300 1103 and ask to speak with a member of the family law team or request a call back.