National Family Mediation divorce

Dispute resolution experts have expressed frustration at the ‘freeze-frame’ status of long-awaited divorce reform.

Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, likens the suspension of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, due to Parliament being prorogued, to football’s VAR.

In a new article for Family Law, Jane Robey says: “With the decision to prorogue Parliament, the Prime Minister halted a Bill that would have made life so much easier for couples who just want to get on with their divorce, making a fresh start as quickly and painlessly as possible.

“Having passed its second reading in the House of Commons it moved to Report Stage.

“But its further progress has been put into ‘freeze-frame’ mode by the Prime Minister’s controversial and contentious decision. And so the waiting goes on.

“The impact on this new law of Parliament’s prorogation – and the associated court cases questioning legality of the PM’s decision – is like the effect of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) upon Premier League football matches.

“The joy of a goal being scored is muted when the VAR call is made. TV freeze frames are deployed. Nobody knows for sure whether the goal is going to be allowed to stand – until the ultimate VAR arbiters have cast judgement. And so it is that at the time of nobody knows when, or if, divorce reform will finally come into play. What a frustrating time.”

She pledges that after years campaigning for the change, NFM and others “will continue to press for these important reforms to be introduced as soon as possible, so that divorcing couples will at last be able to settle their divorce or separation in a more mature and adult fashion than the current arcane system allows.”