England and Wales recently put forward the argument that so-called “no-fault divorce” shouldn’t be a matter for the courts, many in the legal profession agreed with him. Also known as divorce by consent, the situation whereby both husband and wife are seeking separation but don’t necessarily meet the specified grounds for divorce, is becoming more and more common.
At present, a judge is only allowed to grant a divorce if the marriage has “irretrievably broken down” due to one or more of the following grounds:
? Unreasonable behaviour
? Desertion after two years
? Two years’ separation with the consent of both parties
? Five years’ separation without mutual consent
This legal restriction in the British legal system often leads to the bizarre situation in which many divorcing couples end up essentially end up inventing the grounds for their divorce (such as claiming that an affair has taken place when none has), just so they can swiftly proceed with their separation and go their separate ways. In calling for a change in the law, Sir James said “has the time not come to legislate to remove all concepts of fault as a basis for divorce and to leave irretrievable breakdown as the sole ground?”
An Administrative Process
Munby referrs to the current process of consensual divorce as “essentially a bureaucratic, administrative process, albeit one conducted by a district judge” and argues that the “reality is that we have, and have had for quite some time in this country, divorce by consent, in the sense that both parties wish there to be a divorce.”
No doubt, taking divorces of this nature out of the courts would also reduce costs, both for the husband and wife, and an already beleaguered court system itself. Sir James suggested that law makers look to other countries “where the system is that a divorce which is by consent and where there are no children is treated as an administrative matter dealt with by what, using our terminology, one might describe as the registrar of births, deaths, marriages and divorces. It seems to work.”
Using Mediation as an Alternative to Court
The government introduced Mandatory Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) back in 2011 for all divorcing couples. These are designed to present the option of mediation as an alternative to going to court to fight out the details of a divorce. Figures have shown that the average cost of using mediation is around £500, compared with £4,000 for issues that are settled through the courts. The amount of time it takes to conclude mediated cases is 110 days, a significant reduction from the 435 days for court-fought divorces.
But even if couples choose to go down the simpler and quicker route of mediation, a court still has to rubber-stamp the separation, which inevitably costs time and money and unless Sir James’s proposals are taken up by the government, this situation isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Author Bio: Muna Saleem is an associate solicitor with Family Law Firm, Crisp & Co and an accredited member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel.
Jeremy Clarkson’s week get worse as divorce now looms
05 May 2014
It is reported that Jeremy Clarkson is now heading for divorce number 2. After a less than perfect marriage, with reports of infidelity, Jeremy and wife Frances are set to divorce. The couple had been together for 21 years. His wife Frances took the decision to seek a divorce. This will undoubtedly bruise the large ego of the Top Gear presenter. His bank balance is likely to be dented too, it is estimated Clarkson is worth a staggering £30 million. In 2012, he earned £14 million from Top Gear made up of £8 million for his stake in the company behind the programme, a £5 million dividend payment and a £1 million salary. The couple have 2 homes and a flat in London. Clarkson also has a collection of cars that includes a Lamborghini and an Aston Martin. The law on divorce is now clear and works on a basic sharing principle which tends to be an equal split. Friends of Mrs Clarkson are said to be pleased at the news of the divorce.
Susanna Reid’s partner says “Happy Christmas and I want a divorce”
03 March 2014
Dominic Cotton, Susannas partner told the BBC news presenter that he wanted a divorce at Christmas. It is rumoured that he had been unhappy for a while confiding in friends that he felt undervalued and ignored.
The couple have been together for 15 years and have 3 sons. Susanna has recently quit BBC breakfast in a move to ITV. The move means an end to a commute to Salford, from London.
Susanna does not want the divorce and is said to be devasted by the decision and it has led to her taking some time out due to stress. She tweeted a picture of a battered love heart on valentines day, allegedly a cryptic message to Dominic.
Money quarrels lead to divorce rate increase
14 March 2014
The Office for National Statistics has reported a recent rise in the divorce rate. According to the ONS there were approximately 118,000 divorces in 2012, up 0.5% from 2011. Previous to this the trend for divorce rates between 2003 and 2009 was downward, but in 2010 they crept up again by almost 5%.
It has been suggested that this is largely down to the recession putting financial pressure on couples, and that this in trun has led to marriage breakdowns. There were, on average, 13 divorces an hour granted in England and Wales for 2012. Nearly half of these occurred in the first 10 years of the marriage.
Yet another divorce for Pamela Anderson
14 August 2014
Pamela Anderson has, for the second time, filed for divorce from her husband Rick Salomon. In January she that she had again married the music producer. They were previously married to for just 2 months back in 2007, this ended in annullment. It seems that second time around wasn’t any better for the couple, as Pamela has filed for divorce following a marriage of just 6 months, with E! News citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their split. While the couple have no children together, Pamela has 2 children from her previous marriage to Tommy Lee which also ended in divorce. She had also been married to Kid Rock for 4 months, they split in November 2006. There were, on average, 13 divorces an hour granted in England and Wales for 2012. Nearly half of these occurred in the first 10 years of the marriage.