Month: September 2018

Divorce law consultation needs real families

A consultation is now under way on proposals to change Britain’s outdated divorce law.

The government wants to end the ‘blame game’ for separating couples and reduce unnecessary conflict in the divorce process.

At present, divorcing couples are forced into blaming each other for the marriage breakdown. They must cite unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion on the part of their spouse, unless they have been separated for a minimum of two years. If the divorce is opposed, then couples currently must wait five years before a divorce is granted.

Critics say the need for one party to be blamed for the breakdown of the relationship creates additional tensions, at an already stressful time for couples and any children affected.

Demands for change have increased since the Supreme Court ruled in July that Mrs Tini Owens should be prevented from divorcing her husband, until five years had elapsed. This was despite living apart from Hugh Owens since 2015.

No fault divorce

The most eye-catching aspect of the new proposals is the introduction of a new notification process which would remove the opportunity for the other spouse to contest divorce. This is the reason the change is referred to as ‘no fault divorce’.

Other proposals in the consultation include:

  • Retaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce.
  • Removing the need to show evidence of the other spouse’s conduct, or a period of living apart.
  • Introducing a new notification process where one, or possibly both parties, can notify the court of the intention to divorce.
  • Testing a six-month minimum timeframe between the two stages of divorce. This would give couples the stability to plan as well as to consider the implications of the decision.

Introducing the consultation, Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “When a marriage has irretrievably broken down, the law should not frustrate achieving better outcomes, especially for children.

Justice Secretary David Gauke on divorce law consultation

“That is why we are consulting on the detail of our reform proposal, so that a revised legal process can help people find greater stability to consider the implications of the decision to divorce and help them to reach agreement about arrangements for the future.

“Last year, nearly 110,000 couples divorced, all of them constrained by a requirement in place for nearly half a century. The damaging effects of this requirement are not always apparent to people who have not themselves been affected by divorce.”

Merrick view

Merrick principal Amanda Merrick said: “It has long been argued that our divorce laws are no longer fit for purpose and overdue for reform. What people have now is an opportunity to put forward views on how we move to something better.

“In particular, I really hope that those who have been through the process make their views known. Having been divorced with the law as it currently stands, they are uniquely placed to give testament to what works and what needs to change.”

Have your say in the consultation

Divorce facts

Only about 2% of respondents contest the petitioner’s decision to seek a divorce. Of these, only a handful go on to defend the divorce at a court hearing.

At present, six weeks and a day must elapse before a decree nisi can be made absolute. In practice divorces take much longer to go through.

In 2017, behaviour accounted for nearly half of all petitions (46.8%, or 47.3% when combined with adultery).

Last year almost 110,000 people petitioned for divorce in England and Wales.

The consultation closes on 10 December 2018.

We’ve written about no fault divorce previously.

Enterprising women urged to catch up the Davids

That was a stark fact from 2018 research into the way in which corporate Britain is still dominated by men.

According to the research reported on in March and conducted by Involve, a group that champions diversity and inclusion in business, there were five ethnic minority and seven female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies. There were nine Davids and four Steves.

And this time last year, the newly-elected mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, was being taken to task publicly for having an all-male regional cabinet ruling on the city region’s biggest decisions.

Both these events serve to highlight the disparity between the sexes at the top of many of our most important institutions and businesses.

Having successful role models to learn from is crucial if women are to aspire to positions of leadership.

Here in the North West we are fortunate to have very strong models. And some of them are headline names at an upcoming conference on the subject.

The Institute of Directors’ Enterprising Women conference celebrates the best in female business leadership and talent across the region. It marks its eighth year when it opens at Stockport Plaza on October 11.

IoD Enterprising Women 2018: inspiring women

This year’s conference theme is ‘Inspiring Leaders’ and delegates will hear from influential and inspirational experts from across the UK. It aims to help enhance leadership skills, further build business acumen and strengthen personal impact.

The IoD’s North West director Claire Ebrey says it’s needed as much now as when it was first set up.

She said: “This is a tricky time with Brexit, devolved government, the Northern Powerhouse and road and rail infrastructure issues. We also have problems with low productivity, skills shortage and a brain drain away from the region.

Institute of Directors Claire Ebrey

“We need the best leaders to be coming through. It’s true that the majority of our leaders are still middle-aged, white, middle class, heterosexual, men.

“Many of the most successful companies benefit from having diverse boards. They not only have a mix of the sexes but of ethnicity and backgrounds.

“It is a call not just to women to step up and be brave. It is also a call to men to go for it in terms of actively helping women and people from diverse backgrounds to get into those leadership positions.”

Among this year’s big-name speakers are:
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Shadow Business Secretary and MP – Salford and Eccles
Jess Moore, Executive Director, Corporate Responsibility – Warner Bros
Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman – Urban Splash Group Ltd
Kate Willard, Head of Corporate Projects – Stobart Group
Vanda Murray, Manchester Airport Group

Merrick Life readers can book tickets for the conference at a specially discounted price of £75+VAT (normal price £90+VAT)
by emailing

Want to read more? Why businesses should follow Kim’s lead and Five inspirational women you need to know