Friday, 25 May 2012

Trivial rows are not enough

Couples should not be allowed to divorce over trivial matters - that's the message from Nadia Davis, who leads our family law team.

"Most divorces rely on unreasonable behaviour or adultery as the basis for the case. This means that what many people consider to be normal squabbling between a couple is often elevated to seem more serious, and everyday family difficulties can be exaggerated in a bid to prove either the husband or wife is guilty of unreasonable behaviour.

"If there is anything which is going to set a difficult tone right from the very start, it's having to make allegations about how the other person has behaved. And in fact, in the cold light of day, most people agree that it takes two for a relationship to go wrong, and see that it's better in the long-run to focus their energies on the more important issues, such as the children and the finances."

Nadia's call comes on the back of a case where a woman whose husband of 20 years divorced her for unreasonable behaviour.

"The woman appealed against the ruling and said her husband should never have been granted a divorce just because she threw out his packed lunches and took a fuse out of the washing machine," said Nadia. "She said it was just normal squabbling between a husband and wife and not proper grounds for separation, but the court rejected her appeal.

"This is unfortunately typical of the kind of evidence that is used to build up a case for unreasonable behaviour so that a divorce can effectively be rubber-stamped.

"It would be far better for couples to concentrate on resolving their difficulties in a more positive and constructive way, rather than creating an uncomfortable and confrontational setting from the outset," said Nadia.