The current divorce law provides that, unless the parties have been separated for two years or more, one party has to blame the other and rely on the ‘fact’ of either behaviour or adultery as the reason for the marriage breakdown.
The solicitors’ family law association Resolution has been campaigning for a number of years to bring about a change in the law to abolish fault based divorce. The fact on which a divorce is based makes no difference to the outcome of any financial or children case therefore the current law only serves to increase hostility at an already difficult time.
The TV drama ‘The Split’ gives a prime example of the effect of the blame culture in divorce. The drama is centred on a group of divorce lawyers in London. Davey and Goldie McKenzie are the divorcing couple who are clients of the main characters – sisters who are solicitors at competing law firms.
Davey has commenced divorce proceedings based on Goldie’s behaviour. This is despite the fact that he has been having an affair with her best friend. As he started the divorce first, Goldie is deemed to be the party at fault.
Davey has stated in his divorce petition that Goldie is an “alcoholic” and that she viewed marital relations as the “last job of the day”. We then witness a scene in which Goldie breaks open several bottles of the families’ vintage wine collection as is so distressed about the allegation of alcoholism. When she discovers her husband has a son with her best friend, she repeats the allegation from the divorce petition about the “last job of the day”.
Goldie is already an emotional wreck that her seemingly happy marriage is at an end. Davey’s divorce petition adds a huge amount of fuel to an already raging fire.
The drama illustrates very well that there is simply no point in having an outdated divorce law which only serves to cause more hurt. A change in the law is well overdue to protect the real life McKenzies.
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