Divorce laws that assign blame to one person are ‘medieval’ and cause irreparable harm to families.
That’s the view of Port St Mary’s Craig Morris, who is taking his campaign to introduce ‘no fault’ divorces to the island’s highest court by presenting a petition for redress on Tynwald day.
Formerly head of English at King William’s College, Craig’s work and family life has been transformed by a debilitating disease.
Having previously led an active life, including running several marathons, the father-of-one was diagnosed with ME - or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - in 2010. He had to step down from his dream job and five years later he is still dependent on a wheelchair.
Having recently divorced he believes that the current system, based around the idea that one party is at fault, guarantees conflict that can have devastating effects on long-term family relationships.
In the petition he says: ‘Divorcees often have children and a “one wins, one loses” solution harms families and relationships irreparably, most unfortunately regarding relationships with children.’
The petition will be presented on Craig’s behalf by Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK during next week’s sitting of Tynwald in St John’s, when members of the public can directly petition the court.
Mr Watterson told the Independent that he believes the issue needs a fresh look. ‘It seems wrong in this day and age that people are driven into blame, and there to litigation to justify divorce,’ he said.
The petition calls for a Select Committee to consider the options for introducing the option of a ‘no fault’ divorce, where blame does not have to be attached.
Craig told the Independent that he believes the benefits are obvious. ‘It would make the process less adversarial and so less damaging to the parties, particularly the children involved,’ he said. ‘It seems medieval to have a process where one side has to be blamed and the other is presumed innocent.’
His own experience of divorce has convinced him that the current system is inherently unfair, he said.
‘As someone who was very ill and weak, I felt very badly let down by the law. I had neither the funds nor energy to represent my case and feel that the harm that was done to me could be easily avoided in the future.”
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