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What does the Church of England in Norfolk think of the new change in divorce law?

PUBLISHED: 10:07 15 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:23 15 April 2019

The Very Rev Jane Hedges, pictured here on her installation as the dean of Norwich, has issued a response to the new change in divorce law. Pic: Archant.

The Very Rev Jane Hedges, pictured here on her installation as the dean of Norwich, has issued a response to the new change in divorce law. Pic: Archant.

Does the Church back new changes which put an ‘end to the blame game’ allowing people to split up without accusing the other person of wrongdoing?

Kristian Jones, a specialist iin family law. Pic: Archant.Kristian Jones, a specialist iin family law. Pic: Archant.

A new ruling will see couples wanting a divorce be able to cite a 'marriage break-down' rather than having to prove 'adultery', 'unreasonable behaviour' or 'desertion'. Currently unless one of these three reasons is given, the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse's agreement is to live apart for five years.

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In response, the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges said: “The Church remains absolutely committed to supporting the life-long nature of marriage and would encourage couples to seek help if they have problems in their relationship.

“However we also recognise that relationships do break down and that divorce may therefore be the right way forward in order to avoid further suffering in these circumstances. Being able to end a relationship without apportioning blame seems to be a positive step and may hopefully lead to people being able to move on in their lives.”

Justine Flack, Howes Percival. Pic: submitted.Justine Flack, Howes Percival. Pic: submitted.

Kristian Jones, a specialist in family law at Asburnham Solicitors in Norwich, said: “This blame game can cause bitterness and heat up what might be an already volatile situation where often the real losers are the children who get stuck in a household at war. It can also make reaching a financial settlement much harder. I see a lot of clients who spend hours raking through the breakdown of the marriage in order to come up with their reasons for the divorce, and whilst some do find it cathartic and part of the healing process, for others it's upsetting, unwanted, and a distraction.

“It's even worse for the person who receives the petition and finds blame for the marriage breakdown being placed at their door.

“There may be an initial spike in the divorce rate due to the publicity of the new laws but in the long term I very much doubt that it will lead to more divorces, as marriages breakdown not because the law makes it easier but because life is too short to be stuck in an unhappy relationship.”

Justine Flack, partner and family law expert at Howes Percival solicitors, in Norwich, said: “These changes are long overdue. Our focus is to try and get separating couples to work together constructively to resolve issues; fault-based divorce is a barrier to achieving this.

“I firmly believe that the proposed changes will be better for couples and their children by removing blame. Tough though it is, defending a divorce or causing delay does not repair the relationship but is more likely to increase the acrimony of the breakdown.”

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