7 April 2022

Jo Edwards appears across primetime TV and radio to discuss the introduction of No Fault Divorce

Head of Family, Jo Edwards, has been invited to appear across multiple broadcast channels this week to discuss the introduction of no fault divorce in England and Wales.

From 6 April 2022, no fault divorce comes into force, giving separating couples a less acrimonious divorce process as they no longer need to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage. As a long-term campaigner for this legislative change, Jo Edwards appeared on BBC Radio 4, ITV's Good Morning Britain and Lorraine and GB News, amongst other channels, to explain the change in the law and the benefits for separating couples and their children.

A summary of the Jo's media appearances, key talking points and links to the recordings can be found below.

Jo, is the former Chair of Resolution and launched Resolution’s Manifesto for Family Law in February 2015 calling for the removal of blame associated with divorce. She has been a leading figure for the movement for over 10 years.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Jo was invited to appear on BBC Radio 4's Money Box on Saturday 2 April to discuss the advent of no fault divorce, with a particular emphasis on the topic of money on divorce/pensions.

Interviewed by Paul Lewis, Jo explained that the campaign for no fault divorce began three decades ago. She highlighted that the reform is not intended to establish a means for a quick divorce but an 'end to the blame game' meaning a kinder process.

"This is about couples who usually think very long and hard about their decision. It is positive that they will be able to petition or to apply now jointly, but whereas you say one person may be applying where the other one doesn't want it, my expectation would be that there would have been many months of discussion about that before one person took that step".

In addition, Jo touches on the six month minimum period imposed for those seeking a no fault divorce -

"Six months is a minimum, it's not how long the divorce and everything related with it is going to take… The hope is that it will be possible during that period to sort out issues to do with finances and children. However, it's really important that people don't rush that. Ideally, they need to take proper advice, particularly in relation to pensions. Now, we know that only about 41% of divorcing couples at the moment have any sort of financial order and only about 12% deal with pensions, and that is something which is of particular concern.

"What research shows is that women generally are more likely to have emotional attachments to houses and men to pensions, so women quite often are willing to make what can turn out to be disadvantageous trades and it's ever so important that people do seek the appropriate actuarial advice to properly value the pensions and what will be a fair outcome in relation to pensions when looking at all of the assets in a particular case and that may well take longer than six months".

You can listen to the interview here from 15m12.

ITV's Lorraine

Joined by Ulrika Jonsson and interviewed by Ranvir Singh, Jo focussed on the changes the new law would bring and its impact on children.

Jo explained that the previous law had meant that unless couples had been separated for at least two years, they needed to apportion blame to instigate divorce proceedings, which created a level of acrimony that invariably spilled over into discussions relating to finances, but more importantly in relation to children. She highlighted that "psychiatrists explain it's how the separation is managed that impacts the children", rather than the separation itself.

Now, one partner, or both together, can apply for divorce without having to give a reason or apportion blame.

On what this means for people, Jo explained that "this is going to be huge.. sadly and invariably couples drift apart, reflecting long and hard on divorce proceedings, and it was horrifying for them to find out upon seeing me that they have to apportion blame". The new law aims "to make this a kinder process".

The full interview can be watched here from 11m27.


The Briefing on GB News with Tom Harwood

Jo's interview with Tom Harwood on GB News' The Briefing focussed on the 30 year-long campaign for law reform.

When questioned why it has taken so long, Jo explained that the reform was not regarded as an election vote winner and it was only as a result of the case of Owens in 2018 that the pressure for change grew, once the potential injustice of the previous law was evident to the public. In Owens the court refused an unhappy wife a divorce from her husband, despite his alleged unreasonable behaviour, because it was not adjudged that he had behaved sufficiently badly. On appeal, the Supreme Court made clear that the situation was unfortunate but said that their hands were tied because of the law as it stood, which they encouraged law-makers to address.

Harwood also probed Jo on whether no fault divorce would water down the constitution of marriage. She reassured viewers that will not be the case - "Decisions to divorce are often made ignorant of the law", with many couples coming to solicitors not knowing the law or their rights and having reflected long and hard on their decision. Jo made clear that we will likely experience a brief increase in the number of divorces due to people waiting for the new law, but this will settle down in the longer term.

GBN with Tom Harwood

LBC News

During her interview with Jim Diamond on LBC News, Jo covered the topic of cost and accessibility.

"The hope is that the [new divorce] procedure is more accessible for members of the public". Once the decision to divorce has been made, couples can now go online and instigate the process themselves, and it is simpler than it was before.

Jo did warn, however, that legal advice should still be sought to resolve other important aspects surrounding finances and child arrangements.

The full interview can be listened to here from 2:28:20.

Jo also appeared on Good Morning Britain and Talk Radio (the 3pm segment at 7:30), and was quoted in The Guardian and the Law Society Gazette.

To find out more please do get in touch with one of our Family Lawyers and listen to our Breaking Good podcast episode "No Fault Divorce – ending the blame game".

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