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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Eastenders Archie Divorced on Unusual Grounds

“I never signed any divorce papers!” was the cry of Archie Mitchell’s first wife, back in the Queen Vic, hoping to inherit all his money as a result.

But her plan was foiled, as she was informed that her signature wasn’t required – she had been divorced on the grounds of desertion.

Two years’ desertion is one of the five reasons for which a divorce may be brought under English law. However, a straw poll of the 17 family solicitors at Woolley & Co shows that it is in fact very rarely used – with more than one saying they had never used this reason for a divorce for their clients despite practicing family law for more than 15 years.

It may be that the idea of one party “walking out” of the marriage was considered more of an issue when the current laws for divorce were drafted over 30 years ago.

Nowadays, many cannot afford to wait until two years have gone by, before taking some steps to sort things out - this also means that many cannot afford to wait for the more amicable reason of two years separation (with both parties agreeing to divorce) to be the basis of their petition. Reasons such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour are far more common, as proceedings can be started straight away rather than having to have a period of separation first.

But wouldn’t it be better again if people could get divorced just because they agree to – without having to wait for two years – or even because they both accept they were at fault – rather than having to point the finger?

Getting divorced is a difficult enough decision, without having to contend with arguably outmoded divorce laws which steer people towards blaming each other. Isn’t it about time there was a review of this?

Kate Butler
Divorce and family lawyer


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