According to a recent report in the Independent, three in four divorce lawyers want the Government to reform the current divorce system and allow "no fault" divorce.
Unlike Canada, Germany and 49 states in the U.S.A, the U.K does not recognise "no fault" divorce nor allow couples to make joint divorce applications citing "incompatibility", "irreconcilable differences", or "irremediable breakdown of the marriage".
Instead, one spouse (known as the "pursuer" in Scotland and "petitioner" in the rest of the UK) must blame the other spouse (the "defender" in Scotland and "respondent" elsewhere) to obtain a divorce.
Many lawyers believe the current adversarial, fault-based system causes unnecessary delay and acrimony.
"Anyone not wanting to wait two years or more for a divorce has to prove 'unreasonable behaviour' or adultery on the part of their husband and wife. Although for some couples this is appropriate, for many it simply adds animosity and more heartache to an already distressing process," said Nicholas Longford, chair of Resolution, a group that campaigns for improvements in the family justice system
In 1996, John Major's Conservative Government proposed reform to allow no fault divorce. After Tony Blair and New Labour entered Government in 1997, the reform movement really started to gain momentum, but was ultimately abandoned due to negative press coverage.
Now neither Labour nor the Conservatives support a change in the law.
Duncan Smith favours compulsory three-month "cooling off" periods before a spouse can initiate formal divorce proceedings. He also advocates mandatory "information meetings" to compel couples to "reflect on their marriage," "explore the possibility of reconciliation," and receive counselling on "the implications of divorce."
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