The latest divorce statistics in England and Wales show that divorce among opposite sex couples increased for the first time since 2009.
Official ONS figures show there were 106,959 divorces among opposite-sex couples in 2016 – up 5.8% from 2015.
The figures have spurred Resolution, the organisation for constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters, to reiterate its call for the introduction of “no fault” divorce.
Commenting on the rise, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution, whose members comprise 6,500 family lawyers in England and Wales, says: “Behind these statistics, there are tens of thousands of couples who are currently discouraged by the current system from taking a non-confrontational approach to divorce. For many separating couples, the need to apportion blame on the divorce petition can introduce unnecessary conflict, which adds to the stress and heartache for the couple themselves and, crucially, any children they may have.
“For decades, ‘unreasonable behaviour’ has been the most common reason for divorce among opposite-sex couples, yet many are forced into playing this ‘blame game’ by our archaic divorce laws.”
As regular readers of our blog will know, at Silk Family Law we have long supported the call for an end for blame culture in divorce. My colleague Kim Fellowes, sits on Resolution’s national committee and has been part of its campaign to lobby MPs for a change in the law.
Although opponents of changing the law argue that introducing “no fault” divorce may make it easier to end a marriage, Resolution’s campaign has the support of leading members of the Judiciary. Senior legal figures, such as Baroness Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, and Sir Paul Coleridge, the Chair of the Marriage Foundation, support the end of a blame culture.
Resolution’s chair Nigel Shepherd says that the organisation will continue to lobby government to legislate for no-fault divorce. He comments: “In the face of such overwhelming support, and with the Supreme Court due next Spring to hear the appeal of Mrs Owens, whose divorce has been denied because of the current law, the government needs to listen and take action.
“It’s time to make no-fault the default.”
In Scotland “no fault” divorce was introduced in 2006. Like many other family lawyers, I believe we are long overdue a change in the law in England and Wales to keep pace with modern life, and to end the blame game in divorce.
If you have any queries about separation or divorce, including matters relating to children and finances, please speak to me, or a member of our expert team on 0191 500 0777.You can me email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can follow me on Twitter at @waynelynn and Silk on @silkfamilylaw