Letter:After divorce, fault lives on

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The Independent Online
Sir: Whatever Polly Toynbee's opinion (17 June), fault in divorce is not a "concept" that can be killed off by legislation. All too often it is a tragic fact. Of course, there are (perhaps many) cases in which a fictional fault is invented to speed up legal proceedings. There is no reason why these should not instead end in no-fault divorce acknowledging that the marriage died on its feet out of nothing worse than neglect. But there are also (far too many) cases in which an innocent party falls victim to very real physical or emotional violence. It helps no one except the perpetrator of this violence to dissolve such marriages in the same way.

Once divorce has ended the marriage, life goes on. Both parties will probably enter into new relationships. Despite previous hurts, they may remarry. To have a chance of thriving, those future relationships will have to be built on a candid acknowledgement of what went before. A person who has been battered and betrayed needs to have that past known and allowance made for it. Someone who has used a previous relationship as an opportunity to brutalise and belittle should not be left free to inflict the same undeserved punishment on another unsuspecting partner.