BLAME FREE DIVORCES AND RIGHTS FOR COHABITANTS
According to resolution which represents lawyers and other professionals who are dealing with divorce cases, families have changed with time whereas the laws around them have remained the same. One the leading family law organization urged that blame free divorces as well as fair rights for the couples who are not married officially but are cohabiting be introduced immediately by the policy and law makers. Politicians can help tackle the problems as they play a crucial role in making laws that the successive governments left unattended even with the knowledge about the existence of the problems. Resolution has created a manifesto that aims at influencing the political parties in the run up to the general elections to ensure that the successive candidates tackles the problems.
There are six areas that are reported to be old-fashioned and should be changed urgently as they adversely affect the process by which couples and their children separate. It is well stated in the manifesto created by resolution that the available divorce system focuses on blame providing little support to people who are going through separation as they are considered vulnerable with restricted access to alternatives to courts due to lack of financial clarity for couples on divorce and no legal protection for people who live together and separate after sometime.
Resolution has warned that parting couples cannot focus on the needs of their children as they are busy getting out of the relationship and most of them don’t want to take responsibility. The latest statistics shows that there are high divorce cases with about 118,000 reported in one year. The data collected also indicates that most divorces are seen in people who are at age 44 years and almost a half of these couples have a child below 16 years who requires parental guidance. The number of cohabiting couples has also increased as it has risen from 2.2 million in 2003 to 2.9 million in 2013.The chairperson and solicitor of resolutions noted the fact that despite the family justice system going through a period of huge transformation in recent years the laws governing it are woefully outdated, inadequate and unfair to many people.
Divorce without blame has been in the family law since 1992 but the successive governments have failed in enacting and have not addressed these issues. The charade of having to assign blame to adultery or unreasonable behavior even when knowing that the marriage is over introduces conflict during the divorce process as it acts a barrier to amicable dispute resolution, with repeated calls for no-faults divorce from the judiciary and policy makers with the laws remaining unchanged regardless of the change in families. The law commission in 2007, recommended reforming of laws that apply to cohabitants in case they separate and do not follow legislation
Resolution is calling for legal framework of rights and responsibilities for unmarried and cohabiting couples. It provides free initial advice to separated couples before discussing options with professionals and has also introduced parenting charter to help parents understand their responsibilities on taking care of the children even after separation as well as give financial advice to those planning to divorce. According to resolution, more than 50,000 people represented themselves in family disputes in 2013 after the removal of legal aid from family law cases.