Colin Hart, Chairman, Coalition for Marriage (C4M) writes –– A leading supporter of no-fault divorce has criticised the government’s divorce reforms as “very fast and very unfair”.
David Hodson, a leading family lawyer and co-founder of the International Family Law Group (IFLG) has warned that the new law “puts all the cards into the hands” of the person seeking the divorce, leading to “probably the fastest divorce anywhere in the world” as far as the other spouse is concerned.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, permits divorce within 26 weeks (6 months) of filing papers. It also removes the right to contest a divorce so that anyone may unilaterally walk away from a marriage within 6 months, regardless of whether they are at fault or what their spouse wants.
Worse, Mr Hodson warns, their spouse may not even be informed about the divorce until there is scarcely less than 6 weeks to go:
“It is the petitioner who decides when to commence the proceedings. It is the petitioner who files the papers at the court, very probably online.”
“At that point of filing at court, the 20 week starts to run. It is then the petitioner who decides when to serve the respondent, specifically whether at the outset or towards the end of the 20-week period.”
This, he says, “will leave the recipient with almost no time to come to terms with the divorce or take protective financial steps”.
Mr Hodson calls for more “protections and safeguards”, noting that the recipient “cannot delay or stop the no-fault divorce”.
At C4M we endorse that call. No-fault divorce is a terrible idea that will weaken marriage by downgrading the commitment involved and making it easier to walk away.
But whatever views people he on the Bill, surely it needs to respect basic fairness? When even the cheerleaders of no-fault divorce are sounding alarm bells, the Government really ought to pay attention.