Changes to the layout of a divorce form – inviting individuals to name the person their spouse has committed adultery with – could lead to greater conflict, experts have warned.
The latest version of the form, which was unveiled by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last week, is rather starker than its predecessor.
While the previous version left a space for parties to identify “co-respondents”, there are fears that the less ambiguous wording will mean some people feel obliged to give a third party’s name, which could serve to make divorce proceedings longer or more acrimonious.
Margaret Heathcote, the vice-chairwoman of family law association Resolution, is one of those to have expressed concerns about the change in layout.
“Generally speaking, we don’t name the third party. It increases the conflict from day one,” she said.
“There’s no need. But because the box is there, the indication will be to fill it in.”
The MoJ has argued that the new form is designed to be more user-friendly and noted there was a clear reference to the fact that it was not compulsory to provide the information.
A spokesman said: “It has always been possible for a petitioner to name the person they believe their spouse has committed adultery with on divorce application forms.
“As set out in the previous form, and more clearly in the new form, there is obviously no obligation to do so. This is a relevant part of divorce proceedings.”