MARITAL SHAKE UP

The law, as ever on the front foot when serving the best interests of its users, is proposing to take a giant leap into the unknown and revisit the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  It is only a proposal, and we have witnessed many false dawns in the ensuing 45 years, so don’t hold your breath.

The proposal, which has the backing of a number of legal luminaries, including myself, seeks to remove ‘fault’ from the divorce equation.  On any view, it is somewhat of an anomaly.  One of the divorcing parties must petition for divorce to get the ball rolling, and she [it usually is] must choose one of the five recognised reasons for uncoupling.  They are adultery, desertion, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation (no consent required) and unreasonable behaviour, and in that regard, how long is a piece of string?  According to my father, too short to be of any use, and too long to throw away.

The problem about choosing one of these grounds is that one size is meant to fit all, which may not always be the case, and anyway, and this is the point being made, it introduces a confrontational element into the divorce proceedings which is not necessary and may aggravate the already fraught situation and, more importantly, upset the kids.

If fault is removed, or so the thinking goes, this should enable the parties to uncouple amicably.  They are already obliged to agree to mediation in case there is a chance, no matter how small, of rowing back.  However, in my experience, once love flies out the window, so does reason, and all those nit picking irritations which have built up over the years through gritted teeth are brought to the surface and worried over like a dog with a bone. The two front runners are squeezing the toothpaste from the middle and breaking wind in bed.

It may make no difference, but it’s worth a try.