OGR Partner backs the call for no-fault divorce

The question that many family law professionals are bound to ask when Parliament reconvenes this summer is whether MPs will finally consider adopting no-fault divorce.

Organisations such as Resolution, the family law association, have been clamouring for change for years, arguing that the current system puts couples in the invidious position of having to apportion blame and this ultimately makes for more acrimonious separations.

After news broke that Theresa May had called a snap election, Resolution urged politicians from all parties to look again at fundamental reform of the current process.

Rebecca Amboaje, from OGR Stock Denton’s family law department, said: “Proposals and discussion documents aimed at reforming existing divorce law have been in the public arena for nearly 30 years.  As far back as 1988 the Law Commission published a discussion paper on the ground for divorce.

“One of the main aims is to try and enable couples to get divorced with the minimum amount of distress and to encourage them to amicably resolve the practical issues relating to the finances and the children, as well as to try and minimise the harm to the children of the family both during the divorce and into the future.

“I recall studying the new proposed procedure for setting in motion the divorce process when at university back in the early 90s!  Nothing has changed and we still have a system where the only no fault ground for divorce requires a couple to be living apart for two years.

“As a member of Resolution I am in favour of ‘no-fault divorce’ and hope that the law can catch up with the real world in which we live.”

For further information about this update please contact Rebecca Amboaje on (0)20 8349 5483 or by email.

Concern that billions in child support payments could be written off

An investigation by the spending watchdog has suggested that at least £3billion in child maintenance payments may never be paid.

A report collated by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that three quarters of the payments which are owed by absent parents have been classed as “uncollectable” by the Department for Work and Pensions.

A further sum, totalling £527million, is considered “potentially collectable”, with the remaining £366million of the current arrears “likely to be collected”.

Notably, a significant share of the overall arrears – equivalent to around £1.4 billion – is owed by just four cent of absent parents.

The NAO inquiry primarily centred on the decision to replace the Child Support Agency (CSA) with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) five years ago.

Towards the end of its life, the CSA had been dogged by criticism over poor customer service, administrative blunders and a raft of IT problems.

But the efforts to wind-up the outstanding cases, some of which date back over two decades, have themselves been marred by mistakes and accusations of a lack of progress.

By September last year, officials had hoped to wind-up half of the ongoing cases, whereas in fact they had only managed to close around a third.

Meg Hillier MP, who chairs Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, made clear that those owed money needed assurances they wouldn’t lose out.

A DWP spokesman said: “The old system wasn’t good enough, which is why the CSA has been replaced, and today nearly 90 per cent of parents are paying the maintenance they owe.

“We are taking enforcement action in a higher proportion of historic cases than in the past and will be publishing a strategy for addressing arrears in due course.”