A defended divorce is a divorce where either the parties cannot agree the reasons for the divorce being obtained, or where one party tries to prevent the divorce happening at all by saying, for example, that the marriage has not broken down or that their behaviour is not unreasonable when compared to the behaviour of the other party.
Throughout my career I have advised many clients that, in general, it is not worth their while spending thousands of pounds arguing solely about the reasons for the divorce being pronounced as the outcome will be the same whoever wins – divorce!
However, a recent case I was working on brought home to me the real reason why divorce law in England is well overdue for reform. Having seen the couple spend many months and thousands of pounds preparing eight documents between them giving different versions of the same events, it occurred to me that all this money and effort was being spent to satisfy our society’s demand to be told the secrets of their marriage breakdown so that it can verify that the marriage relationship had actually come to an end.
I cannot ever remember being involved in a case where I thought the parties were lying when they said that their marriage had broken down and did not wish to remain living with each other. Surely we can trust adults in this day and age to know when to call time on their marriage or civil partnership.
Is it really any of the state’s business to know why marriages break down? Isn’t it now time to revive the forward thinking idea some bright spark had in the 1990s that a statement of irretrievable breakdown is enough to start the divorce?