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New divorce forms to encourage conflict through ‘name and shame’ of adulterers

Posted on August 17th 2017

Adultery cases form

The government’s new divorce form faces strong criticism as it invites the writer to ‘name and shame’ the person their spouse has committed adultery with.

This could lead to increased conflict in divorce cases as more people may be accused of adultery. Subsequently, third parties may also become involved in cases. The changes come as part of a new online form intended to make filing divorce proceedings more user-friendly. Only people in England and Wales will use the new form to apply for divorce.

 “No obligation” to name people

Generally, the new online form is a positive move as it makes filling in divorce forms more user-friendly. This will be of great benefit to people filling in the forms on their own if they choose not to seek legal advice from a Solicitor.

However, the inclusion of this box may encourage people to involve a third party in their divorce, which in most cases will complicate proceedings and encourage conflict between the divorcing spouses.

The Ministry of Justice has stressed that there is “no obligation” to name people. However, critics argue that the presence of the box encourages it to be filled in. Small text above the box reads;

People do not generally name the person their spouse committed adultery with.

Yet the layout of the question differs from the older version of the form and makes filling in the box much more desirable.

The previous form left a space for ‘co-respondents’ to be named where appropriate. The new form asks bluntly for you to input ‘the name of the person your spouse has committed adultery with.’

What happens if you name the person your partner committed adultery with?

If you name the person your husband or wife committed adultery with, they will become part of the court case.

They will receive copies of the paper work and be given a chance to respond. If they do not respond, proceedings may be delayed and you could incur more costs.

The fight for no fault divorce

Currently to get a divorce in the UK you must prove that your marriage has broken down and give one of the following reasons:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. You have lived apart for more than two years and you both agree to the divorce
  5. You have lived apart for at least five years, even if your husband or wife disagrees to the divorce.

Clearly, in many cases, present UK law encourages conflict between divorcing couples by forcing them to place blame or fault on the other person. Unless you have been separated for two years, it is impossible for to get a ‘blameless’ divorce. The new government divorce form emphasises this ‘blame culture’ further by encouraging you to ‘name and shame.’

Resolution, of which we are a member, is a organisation which believes in a constructive approach to family law matters. It campaigns for improvements to the family justice system, and ‘no fault’ divorce. This would be the ability to divorce without having to place fault on yourself or your partner.

Yet despite this campaigning, changes to the divorce form only seem to encourage the ‘blame culture’ of divorce in the UK.

How can we help?

If you are seeking a divorce we can help. We offer free initial advice from our expert solicitors. Please contact us today on 01244 312306 or fill in our contact form.

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