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Christian family law solicitor defends govt changes to divorce law

by Cara Bentley

The law surrounding divorce is having the biggest change in 50 years, in that neither party will be required to attribute blame to the other for it to be granted. 

Currently, evidence of 'fault' is legally required.

David Gauke, the justice secretary, said this change would help end the "blame game" for divorcing couples.

Some Christian organisations have raised concern with the plan to abolish the right to contest a divorce and the general idea of marriage being seen as easier to end. 

David Hodson OBE says no fault divorce will not make ending a marriage easier.

As a specialist family law solicitor, mediator and abitrator, Mr Hodson is experienced in solving family disputes.  

The solicitor, who also sits part-time as a family court judge, told Premier: "I, and almost every other family lawyer around the country, support no fault divorce.

"We in effect have quasi-no-fault divorce at the moment because nobody deals with a real fault for why a relationship has broken down.

"Divorce matters - which are sad in almost all circumstances, where they are tragic, where there are children involved - let's try and work out the best arrangements for everyone; financial arrangements, parenting arrangements - but please, there is no need to engage in artificial blame in a legal context which doesn't help anyone.

"If the marriage has broken down irretrievably, let us end it."

Mr Hodson explained why he didn't support the current model: "It never helps the children, subsequently, it gets in the way of resolving matters. It is totally artificial and is not positive in any way whatsoever."

When asked whether the concerns of many Christians that it would lead to more break-ups was accurate in his opinion, he replied: "It's 100% not making it easier. There are a miniscule number of cases where one person does prevent the other person from obtaining a divorce but that is rarely to anyone's benefit.

"The simple reality is that where a relationship has broken down, people use artificial grounds for a divorce. Lawyers...I won't say 'make up' allegations of unreasonable behavior but there's a general understanding that we do not raise the real reasons why our relationship has broken down in the allegations of unreasonable behavior, simply because it is to raw, it's too sensitive, we don't deal with it.

"So we almost create these grounds for unreasonable behavior. They are three or four paragraphs, they are nodded through by the courts, there is no scrutiny as to whether or not the marriage has broken down.

"What is more important is that people are able to sort out the arrangements for the children and that they able to sort out any financial aspects."

He added: "Don't spend ages arguing about the grounds for divorce. It doesn't help anyone. We effectively have divorce almost by consent in this country at the moment, only to get to it you've got to throw-up all these allegations."

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