This has been a busy week for commentators on Family Law issues. Yesterday, Sir Paul Coleridge, a senior Family Court Judge, remarked that obtaining a divorce is now easier than getting a driving licence. Was this an exaggeration or is it really true?
Divorcing is not as simple as some couples hope or believe – we blogged on 5 November 2010 about the common misconception that couples can divorce based on their “irreconcilable differences”. This is not a ground for divorce in England. To issue divorce proceedings immediately (rather than waiting for a period of two years separation), one party has to allege fault, either relying on the other’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Although this is referred to as the “quickie divorce” generally speaking, the divorce process takes a minimum of three months.
Research suggests that the combined effect of legal reforms across Europe account for about 20% of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002. Other European countries, such as France, allow no fault divorce if both parties consent.
Mr Justice Coleridge’s comments yesterday also called for the Government to set up an Independent Commission to reform marriage, divorce and family laws which would be welcomed by most family lawyers.