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Supreme Court Justice ‘disappointed’ at lack of no fault divorce

A Supreme Court Justice is “very disappointed” that attempts to introduce no fault divorce in England and Wales have so far been unsuccessful.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House on Sunday, Lord Wilson of Culworth was talking about the life and death of former President of the Family Division Sir Nicholas Wall, a man whom he had been “friendly rivals” with throughout his legal career.

He was asked how the late Sir Nicholas would have felt about various aspects of family law. In addition to their shared disappointment at the continuing absence of no fault divorce,  Lord Wilson said both he and the former President lamented the fact that cohabitants do not have “any rights at all analogous to the rights wives have” when their relationship breaks down.

Severe cuts to legal aid in family law cases would have caused Sir Nicholas “even more distress”, Lord Wilson claimed. He said that, as a result, the courts now experience a “plethora of litigants in person”. He said that many of these people “simply cannot present their cases effectively” which makes things “hugely difficult” for Judges. The unrepresented litigants who struggle in court are “clogging up the system” and “lowering the morale” for all those involved he added.

Upon hearing the news that Sir Nicholas had taken his own life, Lord Wilson told the BBC that he “almost burst into tears”. He pointed out that he was wearing personalised cufflinks: one which had an ‘N’ on it, and one with a ‘W’. Although those were Lord Nicholas Wilson’s initials, he explained, they were also the late President’s. Lord Wilson said he intended to wear those cufflinks for the next few weeks as a tribute to “a great colleague”.

Listen to the full Radio 4 interview here. It begins at 22:20.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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