CILEx backs divorce reform but cautions: Don’t make it too easy

11 December 2018 

CILEx backs divorce reform but cautions: Don’t make it too easy

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has backed the government’s plan to reform the process for divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships, but cautioned that it must not become too easy.

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) consultation on reforming the legal requirements, CILEx said, “With family law principles advocating for the use of a conciliatory approach, minimising harm for all involved, it stands to reason that a divorce process predicated on finding fault is no longer fit for purpose.” 

But it stressed the importance of the process having a “requisite level of formality” to ensure that the process did not lose its significance. 

“This is not only to protect the sanctity of marriage/civil partnerships, but to further prevent these legal relationships from being exploited as a tool for economic gain.”

CILEx liaised with practitioners through its Family Law Specialist Reference Group in reaching its support for the MoJ’s proposals, which would simply require one or both parties to declare that the marriage or civil partnership had irretrievably broken down, without having to lay out the details.

On the question of whether one or both parties should have to give notice to the court that the marriage/civil partnership has broken down, it added: “CILEx is mindful that there are arguments against unilateral divorce, however finds this approach to be realistic in recognising that a marriage/civil partnership, which fundamentally requires there to be commitment from both parties, shall no longer exist in substance where one party is no longer committed to it.”

There were a couple of areas where CILEx urged the MoJ to think further. The ministry proposes to retain the ban on divorce or dissolution in the first year, but CILEx said it needed to consider exceptions for cases of domestic abuse and forced marriages.

The survey of members also found support for the current timeframe of divorce – there must be a minimum of six weeks and a day between the decree nisi and decree absolute – while the MoJ is considering extending that to six months.

Philip Sherwood, the past-president of CILEx, says: “This is a positive proposal that we anticipate will attract broad support. The government needs to strike the right balance between making divorce law fit for the future without downplaying its significance to those involved, and we are hopeful that, with a few tweaks, this reform will achieve that.”

CILEx’s full response to the consultation can be read here.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 07525 756 599 or email:

kerry.jack@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Louise Eckersley, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208 or email:

louise.eckersley@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The 20,000-strong membership is made up of Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.

CILEx members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator covering paralegals.

CILEx provides training, with qualifications open to those holding GCSEs, A levels or a degree. Over 100,000 students have chosen CILEx over the last 25 years, with the majority studying whilst in full or part-time employment.

CILEx provides a non-graduate route to qualification as a lawyer, although graduates are also welcomed and the Graduate Fast-track Diploma offers a more affordable and viable alternative to the LPC.

Those who complete the full CILEx qualification are known as Chartered Legal Executives. They can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.

The membership is diverse – 75% of members are women and 11% are from a BAME background.