Family law organisation Resolution has announced the launch of a two year study on no fault divorce.
The group claimed that 48 per cent of divorces in 2012 were granted on the basis of “unreasonable behaviour” and a further 12 per cent because of adultery. This means that more than 72,000 divorces still relied on the concept of ‘fault’ in a single year.
Earlier this year, Resolution proposed a number of changes to English family law. Among them was a call for ‘no fault divorce’ and now charitable trust The Nuffield Foundation has agreed to fund a study on the subject.
It will be conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter who will examine how the current laws on divorce and separation operate in practice. Resolution hopes that it will help inform a debate about whether further reforms are needed and how such changes could be implemented.
The study will be made up of three focal points. Firstly, it will take account of public opinion on the matter. A nationally representative sample of people will be asked questions about the divorce process in order to gauge how popular divorce law reforms would be in order to help lawmakers approach such a “politically sensitive issue”. This sample will include 2,000 adults and 1,000 people who have recently gone through a divorce.
Researchers will also focus on the courts and how they investigate claims of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. In addition to an analysis of 300 completed cases and 100 contested petitions, they will also interview judges and legal advisers about how closely such claims are scrutinised.
The third part of the study will take a close look at the petition process from the perspective of those who go through it and the lawyers who advise them. It will do so by tracking 75 cases over the course of a year.
Resolution claims that the first set of results – from the public opinion part of the study – will be available early in 2016.