Family Lawyers have said that research highlighting a significant lack of truth in divorce petitions should be a ‘wake-up call’ to politicians to introduce a no-fault divorce system.
A recent report published by the Nuffield Foundation, Finding Fault? Divorce Law and Practice in England and Wales, says that divorce petitions
‘are best viewed as a narrative produced to secure a legal divorce. They are not – as a lay person might suppose they should be – an accurate reflection of why the marriage broke down and who was “to blame”.’
Only 3 in 10 Respondents told the research that the reason cited in their fault-based divorce closely matched the reason for separating.
The report states: ‘What might be regarded as stretching of the truth in such cases is not confined to behaviour petitions. Adultery can be falsely claimed and admitted. Dates of separation may also be massaged to shorten wait times in two- and five-year separation cases.’
Resolution, a family justice organisation which has campaigned for no-fault divorce to be introduced, said the time has come ‘to make no-fault the default’.
Nigel Shepherd, Resolution Chair, said:
‘Fault-based divorces don’t reflect the reality of relationship breakdown for the majority of couples and do nothing to help them deal constructively with the consequences – indeed they often have the adverse effect of inciting additional conflict between separating partners. At present, many divorcing couples are forced to play the “blame game” – citing examples of unreasonable behaviour or adultery, long after the relationship has broken down, simply to satisfy an archaic requirement on the divorce petition which has its roots in laws drawn up more than a generation ago.’