A majority of divorce petitions in England and Wales still rely on allegations of fault, mainly behaviour and adultery. Research in the 1990s suggested that the use of fault had the potential to cause or exacerbate hostility between the parties, whilst not saving marriages. Meanwhile, to save judicial time, the 98% of petitions that are undefended are now scrutinised by legal advisers rather than judges.

Aims and Research

The aim of the research is to explore how the current law on the ground for divorce and civil partnership dissolution operates in practice and to inform debate about whether and how the law might be reformed. Where possible the research will explore similarities and differences in the production and scrutiny of petitions between (opposite sex) divorce and CP dissolution/same sex divorce.

Research Design

Incorporating three linked studies: A Petition Study: exploring how petitions are produced and with what effect on the parties, Court Scrutiny Study: exploring the content of petitions, case progress and scrutiny process and Public Attitudes Survey exploring attitudes to the current law on divorce and civil partnership dissolution and views on law reform.