No Fault divorce was all set to move smoothly through parliament and land on statute books anytime soon. However, not for the first time in the history of No Fault Divorce, it might fall by the wayside. The attempted suspension of parliament could put all bills at risk.
Leaving aside whether or not No-Fault divorce undermines marriage, as the Christian Institute recently asserted, family life in the UK seems to be thriving.
Unmarried cohabitation is proving a more popular route to having a family, according to the Office for National Statistics. Numbers of co-habiting couples are growing fastest. It suggests a decline in marriage, but no decline in people setting up home together. However, there is a significance to marriage that is not always appreciated by couples who do not marry. In divorce, the court can re-distribute the wealth accumulated in a marriage, and make substantial changes to which spouse owns which assets. Unmarried couples cannot take advantage of these wide-ranging court powers. In a long relationship, couples make decisions assuming the relationship will continue. This can lead to one party being economically disadvantaged if an unmarried relationship breaks down, with less recourse to the court.
Parallel systems of civil and religious divorce both here and abroad have been the subject of legal attention recently. In the court here, there has been consideration of what action can be taken to ensure that the wife receives a religious as well as a civil divorce, among other aspects of the case. The case concerned a Jewish couple. There was no difficulty for the wife in securing a civil divorce. However, the husband was not prepared to provide a Jewish religious divorce (a Get). Without a Get, the wife would have no choice but to remain in the religious marriage and not be able to remarry. The English Family Court cannot intervene in issues of religious marriage and therefore could not order that the husband should secure the Get. However, the Judge made an order that the husband pay the wife maintenance until the Get was given. It seemed possible that this would encourage the husband to review his reluctance to give the Get.
Specialist Family Lawyer and Mediator, Hopkin Murray Beskine