The fault-based system for divorce in England and Wales is a system which requires one individual to place blame on the other, in order to petition for divorce or otherwise live apart for two years before being entitled to rely on a ground for divorce that does not place blame on one party for the breakdown of the marriage. For couples who have simply decided amicably to separate and wish to move on with their lives, the system currently restricts them from doing so in a reasonable period of time. Not only does this encourage parties to place blame on somebody in order to divorce quickly, but a recent YouGov survey shows that 79% of the population believe that conflict arising from a divorce can negatively impact upon children’s mental health. The study also showed that 2/3 of people believe that the antagonism created by fault-based divorce can impact children’s ability to interact socially and form romantic relationships of their own. It has just been announced in Denmark that from 1st April 2019, all Danish parents seeking to divorce will need to complete an obligatory 30-minute course named “Co-operation After Divorce” in which they will examine their divorce from their children’s perspective and be encouraged to think about how best to communicate with their spouse, particularly in front of their children. This is in addition to a three-month reflection period that parents are required to complete before being allowed to divorce. The University of Copenhagen has determined that couples in 12 out of every 14 cases of prospective divorcees taking the course, suffered fewer panic attacks, less symptoms of depression and missed fewer days of work. While it will be some time before we understand how effective these changes will really be in Denmark, there doesn’t appear to be any harm applying the same process to couples in the UK through consent instead of being required to do so by law. Parties are encouraged to agree the divorce petition before issuing it to avoid divorces becoming defended, however couples, (particularly with children,) may wish to decide between themselves to take a period of reflection before issuing for divorce, during which time they can agree between themselves or seek professional guidance from a family counsellor or mediator as to how best to communicate with their children regarding their separation. By parties deciding from the outset to deal with the divorce as amicably as possible and communicating effectively, even with a current fault-based system, this may also encourage them to treat discussions regarding their financial settlements in the same way, perhaps leading to more settlements being reached out of court, saving couples considerable time and costs. If you would like to speak to a solicitor about anything mentioned above or if this resonates at all with a situation you might find yourself in, contact Griffin Law today.
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