Family law organisation Resolution has called for sweeping changes to be made to the laws surrounding divorce and separation in its new Manifesto for Family Law.
The organisation, which represents family lawyers and other professionals and is committed to solving family disputes constructively, wants to see a number of changes made to the law as part of an effort to ensure vulnerable people going through separations are protected.
The manifesto also sets out the organisations aims to introduce measures to keep divorce out of court, a Parenting Charter which would help parents understand their responsibilities when separating, allow people to divorce without blame, give people more financial clarity on divorce and provide basic legal rights for co-habiting couples should they separate.
The new manifesto has been released following a series of calls for reform which have gone unheeded.
With successive governments having failed to address these issues the organisation hopes, with a general election on the horizon, to persuade political parties to commit to change.
Family lawyer and Resolution member Katherine Kennedy said she found it hard to understand why the laws remain as they do. She said: “It’s hard to believe we still have this charade in 2015, of having to assign blame if you want a divorce and haven’t been separated for a minimum of two years – even in cases where both spouses agree their marriage is over.
“It makes it much harder for people separate amicably and introduces conflict where it needn’t exist.”
Eight years ago the Law Commission recommended reforming the laws which apply to cohabitants if they separate. Those changes have not happened and there are now almost six million unmarried people living together in the UK, many of whom are still under the impression they would have the same rights as married couples should they separate.
Ms Kennedy said this showed how families have changed and the law has failed to reflect this.
“Divorce is arguably the most traumatic thing a family can go through,” she said, “and we all have a duty to ensure its dealt with in a way that minimises conflict, encourages amicable solutions where possible, and puts the needs of children first.”
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