The latest report by Nuffield Foundation makes interesting reading, although based on my experience the findings are not surprising.

The report has focused on the fault based divorce system we have in this country and has found it encourages divorces on the basis of unreasonable behaviour or adultery.  

I agree as these are the only ways available to prove the required test of irretrievable breakdown of their marriage if they want to avoid the uncertainty of waiting for 2 years before completing their divorce and having a binding financial arrangement.

To use adultery as a basis for divorce, the most common route is for the other person to agree to admit to having had a sexual relationship with another person.  I find there is confusion about this, because the relationship does not have to have happened before the couple separated and so any relationship after separation can be used.

Where there is no other person involved, an unreasonable behaviour petition is another option.  Often people do not realise that this does not have to involve making allegations of abuse or physical violence.  Instead the courts tend to take a practical view and accept a much lower level of behaviour examples, such as moving from the family home or refusing the socialise with the petitioner.  

The nature of the unreasonable behaviour needed is currently the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court (following the Court of Appeal judgement in Owens v Owens  [2017] EWCA Civ 182 where the wife's petition was refused).

I regularly work with people to prepare their divorce petitions before filing them at court to make sure that they are approved by the judge.  This includes drafting appropriate particulars in the petition to support their divorce and taking the right steps to minimise the possibility that their former spouse will defend the petition.  

However, I have seen some petitions drafted very badly by people and even other solicitors, particularly those dealing with unreasonable behaviour that are unnecessarily aggressive, which only serve to increase the disagreements between the couple and inflate their legal costs.

This latest research will add more weight to the arguments for a change in our divorce system that is long overdue, but in the meantime my team and I will continue to work for our clients to minimise the possible negative impacts of the existing law.

If you would like more information about divorce please do contact me.  You can also find my firm's guide to divorce at