Statistics show that more children than ever celebrated Christmas with only one of their parents, following a relationship break-up.
At present, the only grounds for divorce are that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, with most being ‘fault-based’ – adultery, unreasonable behaviour and the rarely-used fact of desertion. The only way to avoid raising issues of fault is by a period of separation of at least two years before issuing the divorce petition. But there are moves to consider changing the law to allow for ‘no fault’ divorce without long separation, with those advocating the change arguing this could reduce the heartache of divorce, allowing greater dignity and lessening animosity.
Explained family law expert Michael Dear of Grant Saw Solicitors: “For the time, being most couples find themselves going through a challenging “finger-pointing” process, if they want to achieve the outcome of a swift break-up. But just because there isn’t a speedy, no-fault divorce option, doesn’t mean it has to be that tough. Collaboration and mediation, and putting children’s interests first, can make a much less painful process.
“Collaboration may not be suitable where there is a threat of bullying or violence, but for most couples it’s a way to get things sorted out more quickly and, hopefully, more easily.”
Figures suggest that mediation is faster and cheaper than going to court – Government figures say the average time for a mediated case is 110 days compared to 435 days for non-mediated cases.
Mediation following a separation usually involves sorting out arrangements for the couple’s children and separating finances from the actual divorce proceedings. The resulting agreement is likely to be presented to the Courts for a formal consent order to be made.
He added: “Thinking about talking is good practice for those at the beginning of a relationship too.”
“For those starting out, it’s sensible to think about protecting assets through a pre or post nuptial agreement – they’re not binding in the UK, but they are being given increasing weight and the open discussion that is necessary to make one is a really useful process to go through. As Winston Churchill said, to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.