By DebbieH 31 Jul 2018 7 min read

Celebrity divorce lawyer backs reform of ‘archaic’ laws

One of the UK’s most famous divorce lawyers has backed a change in the law.

Baroness Fiona Shackleton called the current divorce law “archaic” and backed a reform, but she did warn that couples must be more practical about marriage.

The current system in England and Wales states that a couple must prove that their marriage has irretrievably broken down if they wish to seek a divorce.

The Baroness has called for schools to educate pupils on how they view marriage, suggesting it is “the most important decision they make”.

Baroness Shackleton, who has been a divorce lawyer for over 40 years is also a solicitor to Prince William and Harry.

Under the current law in England and Wales, unless a couple can prove their marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, a divorce can only be obtained without a spouse’s content if they live apart for five years.

The discussions comes in the wake of the case Tini Owens, a woman who lost her Supreme Court appeal last week in her fight to divorce her husband.

Mrs Owens, 68, wants a divorce on the ground she is unhappy but her husband has refused.

Specialist lawyers have called for the introduction of a “no-fault divorce”, which would have helped Mrs Owens.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday, she discussed new research carried out by the University of Exeter, which suggested that asking 10 questions before starting a serious relationship can help couples stand the test of time.

Baroness Shackleton sponsored the University of Exeter research “with a hope that education… will devote just a little time to get students to focus on what is the most important decision they make, which is basically who they breed with”.

“ is a practical arrangement which has to survive to rear children,” she said.

“And it’s the children who are the very sad losers when parents are selfish and decide their own desires override those of their family.”

She added: “What I think should happen is that people should understand that when they are entering this commitment which is meant to be for life.”

She said people should be “aware of some of the traits that you can’t change in people”.

“You can’t make a mean person fundamentally generous,” she said. “You can’t make a kind person fundamentally unkind.

“If they think about these things – not about the white dress or escape from home, or many other reasons, not the love element – the practicality of marriage before entering into it, I’d probably be doing myself out of a job more often.”