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YouGov poll highlights public’s concerns about impact of divorce on children

Resolution has urged the Government to reform divorce law as soon as possible, in order to protect the long-term interests of children of separating couples.

The Government recently, and unexpectedly, announced a consultation on reform divorce law, with the Justice Secretary David Gauke MP saying “we think the ‘blame game’ that currently exists helps no one. It creates unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already trying time for couples and in particular where there are children.”

Resolution has now highlighted findings of a YouGov poll they commissioned, in the same week the organisation submitted its response to the Government consultation, hand-delivered at the Ministry of Justice to Lucy Frazer MP, Family Justice Minister.

The YouGov poll found that 79% of the population agree that conflict from divorce or separation can affect negatively children’s mental health, a figure rising to 87% among those whose own parents divorced during childhood. 77% of those surveyed also said that conflict could affect a child’s academic performance and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised by an acrimonious separation.

Margaret Heathcote, National Chair of Resolution, said:

“We are delighted that the Government is listening to family justice professionals and taking proactive steps towards ending the blame game and modernising divorce law.

“Whilst reform will bring many benefits to separating couples, ultimately it’s the positive difference these changes will have on children that must be at the centre of everyone’s intentions.

“We hope other responses to the consultation will reflect our own view, that it is time to end the blame game as soon as possible.”

Resolution says that opponents of a move towards a no-fault divorce system claim that this will undermine the value of marriage, and lead to an increase in divorce. However, figures from Scotland, where no-fault divorce was made possible in 2006, suggest no long-term increase in divorce rates since reforms were introduced.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said:

“The current system of forcing spouses to attribute blame for a divorce leads only to increased conflict and unnecessary confrontation.

“We have committed to scrapping this archaic rule as soon as possible, making the process less acrimonious and helping families look to the future.
“I am pleased so many important stakeholders support our reforms, including Resolution, and we welcome all feedback on our proposals.”

Nigel Shepherd, a former National Chair of Resolution and long-standing campaigner for no-fault divorce, said:

“For more than 25 years we’ve been making the case that we need to remove blame from the divorce process. I’m incredibly grateful to the Justice Secretary and Family Justice Minister for looking at our case with an open-mind and agreeing on the need to modernise our divorce law.

“Family lawyers across the country back reform, the public support it and, we know from our correspondence with MPs and Peers of all parties, that there is little – if any – opposition in Parliament.

“We know the Government and Parliament have many demands on its focus and time, but we urge that these much-needed reforms are brought forward as soon as possible.”

The government consultation closes on 10 December 2018. For the consultation details, click here. For details of a 2018 survey of Resolution members’ views on the subject, click here.



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