Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Divorce Law Reform

The process of divorce is probably not one most people consider until they have to go through it.  Divorce law has evolved over time and is now a complete jumble.  There are five reasons that one can get a divorce - but not the one that most people would wish - 'because we both want one'.

One of the divorce myths is "irreconcilable differences"  - i think this applied in the USA, but not in the UK.  Divorce has moved away from finding fault  - although this is often achieved by utilising "unreasonable behaviour".  Bizarrely people are told that the reason for the divorce will 99%+ of the time have no influence on financial settlements or arrangements for any children. 

My suggestion is that divorce could be entered into like marriage by mutual consent.  One partner could fill in a form with a sworn statement that they wish to divorce and the other partner could be sent it to sign again with a  sworn statement that they wish to divorce.   As almost no divorces are contested it would allow 99%+ of divorces to start not on grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery, but on a neutral footing.

No-one really likes receiving a petition based on their unreasonable behaviour and a very common reaction is, "I'm not having this. I'm going to defend it and issue a petition based on your unreasonable behaviour." In most cases this would be counterproductive, increase costs, delay the whole proceedings and the end result would be the same. So why encourage it ?

Another bizarre feature of divorce is that the person petitioning controls the speed of the process.  In a  recent survey the majority of people says they used delay as a weapon in divorce. This is quite shocking.

Why is it that after a degree nisi is granted - the petition can apply for a degree absolute after 6 weeks but the respondent has to wait four and a half months !
Usually it is because of disputes over financial issues - but the delay rarely resolves the disputes - it just increases costs, stress, aggravation and drags the process out till one partner or other gives up from emotional and or  financial exhaustion.   For people coming to terms with a a break up of a relationship, often coping with being a single parent, working, struggling with legal costs or legal aid, delay is just another cross to bear.

Why no put it on a equal footing - so once the process is started - one side can't drag it out.

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