A partner with one of the region’s largest family law teams has joined the rapidly growing band of lawyers calling for the government to introduce no-fault divorce.
Nathan Wright, a partner with GHP legal which has offices in Wrexham, Chirk, Llangollen and Oswestry, says he is receiving an increasing number of instructions from clients who tell him they have simply ‘fallen out of love’ and it is archaic divorce laws that cause them to fight.
“When a couple ‘fall out of love’ it is down to feelings not fault,” says Nathan, “and often the parting is perfectly amicable. The problem is that under current legislation they have to prove a number of specified ‘reasons’ for wanting to legally separate, unless they are prepared to wait two years – which is usually not in anyone’s interests.
“So in order to move things along and get on with their lives separately, one or other party has to cite grounds of adultery or details of unreasonable behaviour. At this point ‘amicable’ is likely to become ‘aggrieved’, because despite both parties knowing that this is the only way to get a rubber stamp on their separation papers and divorce in less than two years, the ‘guilty’ party will naturally become defensive and resentful.”
In a recent case, the Supreme Court, ‘with reluctance’, dismissed the appeal of a wife who wished to divorce her husband, on the basis that she had failed to prove the marriage had broken down irretrievably. Lady Hale, who presided over the case, admitted to having ‘uneasy feelings’ but said: “It is not for us to change the law laid down by Parliament – our role is only to interpret and apply the law that Parliament has given us.’
Referring to the Supreme Court judgement, Nathan Wright said: “The decision in Owens v Owens has further strengthened calls amongst the family lawyers’ community for the government to introduce no-fault divorce.
“In my view it would certainly take some of the animosity out of an already difficult situation. To insist on divorce based on the behaviour of the other party only serves to throw fuel onto an already burning fire. This in turn could contribute to children witnessing unnecessary animosity and conflict between their parents.
“The government should do all they can to ensure that the best interests of the children of every separated couple are protected and the law should be changed as soon as possible to allow no fault divorce.”