Divorce Policy will Incentivise False Allegations

photo: Dr John Bullas


Well done, the Tories. Another policy classic from the stupid party.

Now women are going to be incentivised to make false allegations against their partners if they want to get a solicitor. The new legal aid rules restrict representation to those who have suffered domestic violence.

Imagine the conversation outside the school gates on how to get a solicitor. “All you have to do is say that he pushed you. Then it becomes a domestic. Don’t think he wouldn’t do it to you.”

There have been huge resources poured into domestic violence over recent years. The “Positive Arrest” policy means that any allegation of even the smallest touch during an argument must result in the accused being arrested and investigated.

The wishes of the apparent victim are not taken into account for fear that conflicting loyalties will pervert justice, although to take such a strong line can be a perversion of common sense.

Often, when the best advice is for one of them to stay at a friend’s for the night, the actual outcome is that one of them spends 18 hours in a police cell. This can cause considerable bitterness at a time when the relationship is already in trouble.

Under the Positive Arrest policy, a full investigation is then carried out by specially trained officers of CID status. A defence solicitor is provided and the CPS makes the disposal decision. The cost must be considerable.

The perfectly reasonable logic behind this policy is that by investigating the smallest incidents of domestic conflict, the bigger incidents become less likely, so the potential is nipped in the bud, as it were. This whole process can best be described as a glorified risk assessment, but it eats up so much resource that less is available for the genuine serious incidents.

Men and women are just as malicious as each other, but the malice presents itself in different ways. If a man wishes to be vicious to a woman, he is more likely to use his fists feet or penis. If a woman is vicious to a man she is more likely to do it by proxy. I’ll get my brother onto you; I’ll spread a nasty rumour, or I’ll make a false allegation.

It’s also worth remembering that men can also be victims of the violence of women, but are highly unlikely to report it to the police. The macho psychology of men manifests itself in an “I can handle it” attitude.

One of the most common defences is that she is lying in order to get him out of the flat, so she can have possession, or to keep custody of the children. Whether or not his defence is truthful, the situation will not be helped by further incentives such as the promise of a solicitor and barrister in the divorce court, in return for an allegation made to the police.

The government believes that money will be saved by withdrawing the right to legal advice, but the opposite is often the outcome. Family courts are highly emotional and the legal advice provides focus.

Without advice litigants arrive with arguments such as, “She doesn’t deserve custody because she turned up five minutes late”. Genuine and worthy issues don’t come to the fore due to the confusing emotions involved in the breakup.

The Tories are trying to present this policy by highlighting the mediation service prior to court business. This service is the successful policy of the Labour Party, with the single innovation that couples will be forced to attend the service rather than the voluntary service previously.

Mediation is by its nature a process achieved by co-operation, so it’s unlikely to improve on the current service.

However, it is worth noting the way that the Tories always try to cover up cuts by presenting something apparently positive. It’s just a shame that they have so few ideas themselves that they have to appropriate successful Labour policies and present them as their own.

Let’s hope people see through them by the time of the next election.

4 Responses to Divorce Policy will Incentivise False Allegations

  1. Thus Spake Zarathustra says:

    I’m concerned that the whole issue of marriage is handled badly from the very start. The law surrounding marriage is badly designed and creates a platform that accentuates potential future difficulties with property ownership, work, tax, welfare, and divorce, and child care. This is before we get into the failings of the ecosystem.

    One of the headlines that caught my eye was the Tories selling mediation while cutting legal aid. Another change was proposing that the legal system wash its hands of some of the details like varying custody orders. Your essay highlights key cultural problems at the heart of the system that I don’t believe this change will address.

    I’ve worked for mediation and, I suppose, like the current spat over FPTP and AV voting systems know from discussing mediation with experts that mediation is not a magic bullet. Indeed, many issues that state actors have tried to force mediation on are inappropriate, unwanted, and can add a needless impediment to resolving issues.

    The Tories have trumpeted removing the racial and gender barriers to adoption as ending social engineering but no change is cost free in any system. One man’s social engineering is another man’s solution. It’s typical of Britain to lurch from one miserable extreme to the next without building a simple, clear, and flexible system right first time.

    I would be more persuaded the Tory changes are a step in the right direction if they were less bullish and consulted in a way that genuinely takes on board people’s concerns, and only locked down policy when it was a shippable product that added measurable and meaningful value. What are the criteria for success? Who will pay if it fails?

  2. Thus Spake Zarathustra says:

    Afua Hirsch writes in The Guardian on the Tories plans for divorce and says that mediation doesn’t always work.

  3. George Givens says:

    False allegations of domestic abuse by a spouse to gain child custody or any other benefit such be treated as filing a false police report. The accuser
    such be jailed. All parts aiding and embedding such
    have their credentials and licences revoked. Including
    attorneys. The US Constitutions specifically states that any party attempting to unjustly deny a US citizen of his civil rights shall be prosecuted. No one wants domestic violence to happen but no one wants
    innocent people to be prosecuted either. This would included perversion of common sense in a domestic disspute. Further, there are are clauses in the Constitution to include cruel punishment by the government. This means that the punishment must fall within the severity of the crime.

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