Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Judge ye not

I'm shocked at how hard it still is for someone to divorce a partner they can't bear living with any longer. A judge can still refuse a divorce, saying that the grievances aren't convincing enough, or that the other person's behaviour doesn't seem unreasonable.

If a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour (which applies in the vast majority of cases) is refused, the only alternative is living separately from the other person for five years before getting a consent-less divorce.

Some of the comments made by judges are outrageous. One woman who said her husband's unreasonable behaviour made her feel unloved, isolated and alone, was told he was simply "old school".

Another woman was told that the examples of her husband's unreasonable behaviour - like his workaholic tendencies and regular grumpiness - just weren't good enough.

Several of my blogmates and Facebook friends have had incredibly acrimonious and long-drawn-out divorces, and surely it should be easier to get a no-fault divorce without having to "prove" the marriage has broken down?

When someone is already seriously distressed by a failing marriage, to have to convince a sceptical judge you're at your wits' end just adds insult to injury.

As divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag puts it, "The very idea that someone who desperately wants or needs to exit a marriage can be prevented at the discretion of a judge is absolutely terrifying. Forcing couples to stay married has no part in a civilised society."

The irony is that getting married is extremely easy. You sign a few bits of paper and that's it. Nobody asks you to "prove" that you're serious about marriage and want to make it work. Yet if everything goes pear-shaped, endless obstacles are put in your path.

Judge not, that ye be not judged....


PS: Today is my 10th blogiversary. How about that?


  1. Happy birthday!
    May there be many more

  2. I have never heard of a judge not granting a divorce here. The long, drawn-out cases always seem to be about custody issues and money. I have a friend whose divorce took 3 years because her ex kept refusing to compromise or settle on any terms whatsoever. It was ironic because he was the one with a new girlfriend and insisted upon the divorce, yet wanted my friend to suffer.

  3. Looking forward to many more years of your blog.

    Judges can be wily animals...one sniff of someone after the loot and they'll come up with all sorts of justification for a refusal.

  4. John: Thank you! I'm sure there will be.

    Bijoux: Yes, custody and money can be thorny issues too. And I also know someone whose partner wanted the divorce but stalled and stalled just for the hell of it.

  5. Helen: That's a thought, that the judge might suspect the divorce-seeker of some hidden agenda like grabbing a hefty pile of cash.

  6. From what I've heard it's a lot easier to get a divorce in the U.S. now. It's too bad when it happens, but it shouldn't be a tortuous affair.

  7. Jean: I'm glad divorce is easier in the States. In the UK it can still be a very bitter and laborious process, leaving those concerned thoroughly alienated from each other.

  8. I see I returned on the perfect day! Happy blogobirthday, if I'd known I'd have brought cake.

    No idea about the rest of the UK, but here in Scotland you can get a quickie divorce if you both agree, without even using a lawyer. You simply go along to the sheriff's office and pick up a form. I know this as it's what my ex and I were in the process of doing when he decided to be an arse and get a solicitor. Lord knows why because I didn't have any money, and he had the entire contents of the house, having absconded to his girlfriend's with them. He ended up having to pay my legal costs as well as his, and by the time it was all over his girlfriend had realised what a knob he is a kicked him out.

  9. Congratulations, happy Blog Birthday Nick! Or is it called blogobirthday? well done anyway...

  10. Eryl: Well, he certainly got his comeuppance, didn't he? Threw away a pile of money and lost his girlfriend. As you say, what a knob. Why couldn't he just do it the easy way? It does sound a lot simpler and low-stress in Scotland.

    Wot, no cake? What sort of friend are you?

    Jenny: Take your pick. Blogobirthday, blogiversary, blogodecade....

  11. Not the slightest idea about divorce problems. In my environment most friends are not married. Probably the best way to avoid such never ending couple "wars". I hope, I will never be confronted to divorce quarrel. Fingers crossed.
    Mia More

  12. Mia: Jenny and I cohabited for 14 years and fully intended to carry on that way. We got married because the pension from her employer would only have gone to her spouse if she died. Mind you, marriage is also better from a legal point of view - a cohabitee has no legal rights whatever over property, money etc.

  13. TEN YEARS! wow. and I couldn't even make it to 6.
    happy bloggy birthday nick! I love your posts.
    I had no idea it's so hard to be divorced in the UK. that explains some of the angst I've seen in some movies about it.
    here in the states it goes by each state's laws.
    most have 'no fault' divorces.
    [irreconcilable differences]
    so that neither party is to blame. rather more civilized I expect. even still...
    acrimony and hatred often fly!

  14. Tammy: Thanks! It makes so much more sense to have "no-fault" divorces and avoid the interminable legal wrangling and increasing bitterness. I'm just flabbergasted that in the UK a judge has so much power over people's personal lives.

  15. Congratulations on your 10th blogiversary!

    I think your comment about how easy it is to get married is very relevant. Sad that so many marriages end in divorce.

  16. Liz: Thanks! It is sad that so many marriages fail. I always wonder if the failure was inevitable because the partners just weren't compatible, or whether if they'd tried hard enough they could have made it work.

  17. We've had no fault divorce here since the 70s, if my memory serves but custody and property settlement can drag out for years (depending on the people involved). A divorce just requires 12 months of separation.

    I have heard a few people say that they divorced without too much thought and regretted it so maybe your system where it's not so easy has some merit?

  18. Kylie: Custody and property can be big sticking points here as well. Rich pickings for lawyers as they thrash things out for months on end.

    Well, if you regret your divorce you can always marry again! I've read several times of that happening.

  19. I have seen too many divorces and long suffering broken marriages, not to agree with you. I cannot fathom the trend I notice now of more of the former than the latter. Single parenting seems to be now in fashion whereas it was a rarity not so long ago.

    Congratulations on your tenth blogiversary and may you see many more.

  20. Ramana: Thanks! Indeed, single parenting is now commonplace. The parent would rather be on their own than put up with a terrible marriage. I think that's a very positive change from my younger days, when single parents were condemned by all and sundry and often had their children in secret to avoid all the venom.

  21. When a judge refuses a divorce, I find it extremely difficult to imagine how the couple could just go back to living together. I wouldn't say it could happen somehow. Oh, and congrats on the blogoversary. We're blogging about the same length of time.

  22. Maria: Thanks! I find that hard to imagine also. I think in practice a lot of couples live separately until they can get a consent-free divorce.

  23. We have a category of divorce here called "no-fault divorce." You don't have to give a reason, not even irreconcilable difference. You just file, make a financial settlement and (if you have kids) a parenting plan, and the judge grants it.

  24. Agent: All very sensible. I don't know why that has never been introduced in the UK. It would end all the long-drawn-out bitterness and distress that goes with the current system.