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Government urged to reform overly complex divorce system

‘Current system can fuel conflict and disadvantages litigants in person’

New research published by the Nuffield Foundation reinforces the case for reform of the overly complex divorce system in England and Wales. Taking Notice finds that the current system can fuel conflict and disadvantages people who represent themselves and those alleging abuse as grounds for divorce.

The government has proposed to reform the legal requirements for divorce, including removing the need to allege 'fault' and replacing it with a process of giving notice of irretrievable breakdown. Only this week the Justice Secretary confirmed that the government would introduce the necessary legislation to end 'no fault' divorce in the next parliamentary session.

Based on analysis of a national sample of both undefended and defended divorce cases, Taking Notice recommends:

The analysis presented in Taking Notice was undertaken by Professor Liz Trinder at the University of Exeter and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. It addresses the questions raised by the Ministry of Justice consultation (MoJ) on reform of the legal requirements for divorce. The MoJ consultation takes on board recommendations from two earlier Nuffield Foundation reports by Professor Trinder, Finding Fault, and No Contest.
Professor Liz Trinder said:

"This new research reinforces the case for divorce law reform along the lines proposed by the Ministry of Justice. The current system is complex, confusing and creates unnecessary conflict. The proposal to allow divorce only after a 'cooling off' period will help families focus on the future, not on an unhelpful 'blame game'. Our new research also finds that the Ministry of Justice is right to propose removing the outdated right to defend a divorce."

Tim Gardam, CEO of the Nuffield Foundation said:

"The Nuffield Foundation welcomes the Ministry of Justice's consultation on reforming the divorce law in England and Wales, which draws heavily on Nuffield-funded research on how the current system increases conflict for separating couples and their children. We hope Professor Trinder's new analysis will be similarly influential in ensuring a reformed divorce law provides a clear, accessible and considered legal mechanism for those whose marriages or civil partnerships have broken down irretrievably."

For the report, click here.