Tuna casserole, again? I want a divorce!

In her 30-odd years as a divorce lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd Platt has heard it all. The woman who sued for divorce because her husband insisted she dress in a Klingon costume and speak to him in Klingon. The man who declared that his wife had maliciously and repeatedly served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole.

“It’s insane,” Ms. Lloyd Platt said. “These things should not have any part in the procedure.” But they come up all the time in England, which unlike every state in America does not have a no-fault divorce law…

Under current English law, divorces are granted only under one of five categories, including adultery and abandonment. About half of the cases fall under the heading of a broad category called unreasonable behavior, in which one party has to accuse the other of acting so unreasonably that living together has become intolerable.

Many divorce lawyers and judges have long chafed at the requirement, and some like Ms. Lloyd Platt are campaigning to change the law to allow no-fault divorce…

In addition to the Klingon man, there was a woman who said her husband had not spoken to her for 15 years, communicating only by Post-it note. And there was the man whose wife “would without justification flirt with any builder or tradesman, inappropriately touching them and declaring that she could not stop herself.”

One petition read: “The respondent insisted that his pet tarantula, Timmy, slept in a glass case next to the matrimonial bed,” even though his wife requested “that Timmy sleep elsewhere.”

There were complaints about husbands with atrocious body odor and others who changed the channels too fast. “The respondent husband repeatedly took charge of the remote television controller, endlessly flicking through channels and failing to stop at any channel requested by the petitioner,” one petition read…

“People have had to start playing games with this, with the complicity of the court,” said Patrick Chamberlayne, a divorce lawyer in London. “They put their heads together and say, ‘Surely we can come up with something that the court will agree on.’ That’s when you get the sort of trivial nonsense like ‘He was late home from work’ and ‘He wasn’t supportive in the kitchen…’ ”

There was a push in 1996 for a no-fault divorce law, but the plan died amid worries that it would make divorce too easy…

RTFA for more anecdotes.

Not a lot of explanation about who provides the pushback against no fault divorce. Certainly assorted religions of the sort that feel they have a charter to interfere in peoples’ behavior lead the way; but, I’d bet there’s also a certain class distincion involved. So many posh types feel they can’t divorce because it just doesn’t look good – therefore why should ordinary working families have the opportunity to do what they dare not.

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