Sometimes I despair – and this is one of them. Back in August I blogged explaining that, as a firm, we are backing the Resolution campaign to make no blame divorce a reality (Join the campaign for no blame divorce). All 22 of our specialist family lawyers wrote to their local MPs around the country to call for their support in making divorce less painful for those involved. I, myself, wrote to MPs in Leamington and Stratford to call for their support.
So why despair, I hear you ask? The limited and ill-informed response we’ve had is why.
To date, almost two months on from writing to our MPs, we’ve had a total of three responses. Good of them to respond some of you may be thinking – but not when you read the content. In all three cases, the response indicated a significant lack of knowledge or understanding of the topic (and possibly also an inability to understand some of the points we were making.) One MP clearly didn’t appreciate that we didn’t already have no fault divorce in England & Wales. To his credit, once it was explained by one of our lawyers, he did then go on to say that he was certainly in favour and would support the Resolution Manifesto for Family Law.
No fault divorce would benefit families
Another response from a West Midlands MP simply trotted out platitudes – “it goes without saying that Ministers are clear that family is nearly always the best place to bring up children”. To me this shows a clear lack of understanding, firstly of what we were asking for - no fault/no blame divorce, and, secondly, what constitutes a family in modern Britain! No one wants a marriage to fail, especially where there are children involved. The whole point about the call for no fault divorce is that we want to make the process less blame oriented and allow couples to separate in an amicable way, which can only be a good thing for any children involved.
Mediation is not a panacea in divorce
The final response from an MP in East Anglia which we received earlier this week is what prompted by decision to write this blog. He clearly had only one agenda – and that was mediation. He seemed to believe he needed to explain the Children and Families Act of 2014 and the fact it introduced the requirement for mediation (or at least a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) in some family law cases – not for divorce notably! When he’s writing to a lawyer with 20 years family law experience, someone who lives with the Children and Families Act every day, and knows full well the benefits and application of mediation in family law cases, it just makes me despair. We don’t need telling that coming to a financial settlement amicably will cost less than embarking on court proceedings. It’s what we tell clients every single day. All we were asking for is support to make the actual process of a divorce less blame-oriented. Take the blame out of divorce and surely you are more likely to have a couple agree how they split their marital finances?
All in all, I am disappointed in our elected representatives. So, if they will not take up this important cause, it’s left to those of us in the Family Law profession to strive for better results for our clients by continuing to call for divorce without blame and encouraging clients to take a less confrontational approach to the whole divorce process.
Advocate for no fault divorce