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No-fault divorce is the recipe for a ‘good divorce’ says local family lawyer

Thursday 06 December 2018

No-fault divorce is the recipe for a ‘good divorce’ says local family lawyer
A local family lawyer has reiterated her calls for a change in the law, specifically the introduction of no-fault divorce, after figures released today revealed the impact of conflict between separating parents on children.

A new YouGov poll by Resolution, which campaigns for a fairer family justice system, has found that: 

  • 79% of the population agree that conflict from divorce or separation can negatively affect children’s mental health; rising to 87% among those who experienced their parents’ divorce as children; 
  • 77% said conflict could affect children’s academic performance; 
  • A further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised;
  • 79% of the public support measures that would remove blame from the divorce process; and
  • 71% believe change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children. 

The statistics coincide with Good Divorce Week, also led by Resolution, which seeks to highlight ways in which divorcing parents can put their children’s needs first. 

Advocate Barbara Corbett of Corbett Le Quesne said: “Some 200,000 people get divorced in England and Wales each year, but in order to get a divorce with or without consent, which does not attribute blame, couples must have been separated for 2 years or 5 years respectively. The process in Jersey is shorter in that the period of separation required to get a no-fault divorce is 1 year with consent, and 2 years without consent. What it means is that if you want to get divorced sooner you have to get divorced on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery which is not conducive to an amicable divorce.”

2017 statistics for Jersey show that some 200 divorces are processed each year. 

Advocate Corbett, along with many other family lawyers, feels that the blame element is outdated altogether, and more importantly a huge source of conflict for the parties to divorce, and as an inevitable result, their children. 

“Every day we work with separating parents who want to do what is best for their children”, she said, “but often, even with the most amicable break-up, the requirement to apportion blame for the breakdown of the marriage, if you want to get divorced sooner than the law currently allows, can create so much unnecessary conflict, which in turn can threaten the entire process of divorce. 

“At the moment, around 60% of divorces in England and Wales are based on fault, compared with only 6-7% in Scotland where the law is different. That is a staggering statistic.

Many couples are surprised that they cannot just cite irreconcilable differences or say they’ve grown apart. Divorce law for 21stcentury couples should allow people to divorce for the reasons that are real to them. We have to be able to trust in adults to make decisions which are right for their lives. The States of Jersey are currently consulting on no fault divorce and I would urge everyone to respond to the consultation in the hope that we can consign fault based divorce to history.”

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