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Could new divorce form increase blame culture?

Aug 29, 2017

A new online divorce form has been released by the Government which invites the third party in adultery cases to be named by the person filing for divorce.  Sam Miles, Family Partner, explains here what impact this could have on adultery cases being filed in the Family Courts and clarifies what the grounds for divorce are.

Name and shame in divorce

The new online form, to be used in England Wales, asks for the name ‘of the person your spouse has committed adultery with’, compared to the old form which simply left a space for ‘co-respondents’ where appropriate. 

“While the Ministry of Justice says that there is no obligation to name people, the very fact that the option is there could lead people to think it is a necessary part of the process,” begins Sam.  “If a divorce arises from adultery, there will already be hostility and anger from the person who has filed for divorce, and this will only lead to more conflict; something that can have a devastating lasting effect on the couple and any children involved.”

Once a third party is named as the person who a spouse committed adultery with, they become part of the Court case, which could delay matters or increase the cost if they do not respond to any letters sent to them.  “Bringing in the third party could also have consequences for the case itself if it goes to Court,” explains Sam.  “It could be said that the person filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery is the one who deserves the sympathy, but bringing in the third party to effectively name and shame them could have the reverse effect as views by the Judge.  In cases such as these we would always advise discretion and to be the bigger person so to speak; obviously this will depend on the circumstances of the divorce and the people involved.”

On what grounds can I divorce?

In 2015, there were just over 100,000 divorces granted in England and Wales, with 12,148 being due to adultery.  Unreasonable behaviour counted for 46,815 of them, almost 50%.  “These are two of the five ways you can apply for divorce; desertion and separation are the others.  If a couple has separated and lived apart for more than two years they can divorce if they both agree, or if they don’t agree they have to have lived apart for at least five years.”

Sam concludes, “The process of getting divorced can be a complicated and emotional one, particularly where children and financial arrangements are concerned.  It’s important that couples seek legal advice when making the difficult decision to divorce, so that all options can be explained and clarified, and all routes can be explored.  It may be that Family Mediation could assist with making any difficult decisions, which can happen if the divorce is for reasons such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.”

To find out more about divorce or Family Mediation, you can contact Sam or the Family team on 02380 717431 or email familyenquiries@warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.