Sir James Munby’s final call for no fault divorce?

The country’s leading family law judge, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, chose to once again press for a move towards no-fault divorce during the course of a recent lecture to the legal faculty at the University of Edinburgh. Sir James highlighted his view that no fault divorces should be made available to allow those individuals “trapped in a loveless marriage” to divorce easily.

Sir James’ comments come during his “farewell tour”, in anticipation of his retirement later this summer. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court continues to consider the Owens case, previously heard in the Court of Appeal by Sir James himself and as such, this is very much a topic du jour for the leading family courts in 2018. Currently, spouses who wish to divorce must cite a reason in support of the contention that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, such as unreasonable behaviour or adultery on the part of one party. Spouses seeking a no-fault resolution must wait to be separated a minimum of two years before such options become available to them. Sir James has declared the law in this area “very badly in need of reform”.

Sir James Munby continues to back a change in the law on divorce, supported by Baroness Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, who last year also said the notion of fault should be removed from the divorce process.

During his lecture at the University of Edinburgh, Sir James Munby also said the lack of legal recognition for cohabitees was “an injustice which has been recognised almost as long as I have been in the law…”. Opposing commentators have previously been loathe to afford cohabiting couples with legal rights commensurate with their married counter-parts, in an continued attempt to promote the institution of marriage. It is unclear how long this stance can continue, given the increasing rise in cohabiting relationships seen by society over recent years.

Serving Bedford and the surrounding villages, together with our office in central London, the solicitors at Hunter and Uro Solicitors can help you with any family law matter, including divorce, separation, financial matters and orders relating to your children. If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss your case, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777.

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