Examination of Witnesses

Part of Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:28 am on 2nd July 2019.

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David Hodson:

We tried it under the present process in a number of cases where we had agreed particulars of unreasonable behaviour and cross-petitions. In other words, it went through on the petition of both the petitioner and respondent. Then we got the decree absolute, and we still had the original petitioner described as the petitioner, though it had gone through on the petition of the respondent as well, because there was a joint petition with jointly admitted unreasonable behaviour on both sides. That was so unfair. It is the unfairness of that decree absolute. If only we could have, “This is the marriage of x and y, and they have jointly asked for this.”

I think—we can discuss this—there will be a number of instances where there is a sole petitioner and a joint application for the decree absolute. Again, that embraces what we want to see—that by the end of the period before the application for the decree absolute, they have both come to terms with it. They may not have been okay with it at the beginning, but if at the end, they have come to terms with it, how much better that would be for the children, the future parenting and all those other issues. That is why we are desperately keen to see not only a change to our laws, but a change in the terminology—the way the forms are set out—because that signals so much more for the couple.