Examination of Witnesses

Part of Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 2nd July 2019.

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Professor Trinder:

Just now I mentioned that 60% of divorces in England and Wales were based on fault. North of the border in Scotland it is 6% to 7%. Are we, south of the border, so much more badly behaved in marriages than the Scots? [Laughter.]Again, it’s a game. The system is gamed, and the law currently incentivises conflict, because the only way to get a divorce within a reasonable time is to make allegations of fault. It is more likely that 50% of divorces are about behaviour because you do not need an admission, as you do with adultery. In the surveys that we ran as part of our study, that was much more likely to cause difficulties in sorting out child arrangements and to mean contested financial proceedings. The point is that divorces are going to be incredibly stressful and, in many cases, conflictual. The problem is that the law adds needlessly to that conflict. The fault process is a routine and a legal charade that adds nothing. Through allegations and seeing behaviour in black and white, it can derail couples who are managing their divorce reasonably well. It can derail things in a way that adds nothing to the process, and is just a needless problem that does not need to be there.