DIVORCE lawyers have seen it all. They've got some stories to tell.

They see people at their very worst, arguing over who gets the cake slice, or how to divide access to the goldfish. Frequently these struggles are simple power games, one-upmanship, but they can have serious consequences.

There has been a movement in recent years to avoid the old-style, 1980s high-conflict divorces, which, although probably pay for your solicitor's annual skiing holiday, are not particularly helpful when it comes to co-parenting or for children's mental health.

But there has been a huge stumbling block. The law is archaic. If you want to divorce before being separated for two years then you have to prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, and describe in some detail the reasons to back it up.

This leads to all sorts of weird and wonderful citations. A divorce lawyer I spoke to said the wife in one case had detailed how her husband had left his wet towel on the floor every day for 16 years.

Others, found on the internet, include a Kuwaiti woman whose husband used bread instead of a fork to eat peas, leading to them separating after a week (if this isn't a case for living together before marriage, I don't know what is) - and an Indian woman who took exception with her husband after he failed to change his relationship status on Facebook after they married.

We don't have a no-fault divorce system in the UK. And if you want to divorce before being separated for five years, then both parties have to give their consent. If it's become a power game, or one partner is particularly controlling, this can lead to problems.

Now couples wanting to divorce may benefit from a much less confrontational process under government plans which would remove the need to cite fault, and stop one party being able to contest a divorce.

The need for a change was brought into sharp focus when Tini Owens was refused a divorce by the family court and Court of Appeal earlier this year. Her husband of 40 years contested the break-up – but reluctantly the court had to rule against her because of outdated law.

The 68-year-old now has to stay married for five more years to a man who has so little respect for her opinions that he won't let her walk away from her 'loveless' marriage.

And the animosity caused by having to blame one party for a divorce is needless and harmful. I have yet to see a divorce which was entirely the fault of one side, excepting of course domestic abuse cases.

Under the law, a divorce could be refused by the court if the reasons cited are not compelling enough, leading to spouses 'over-egging' their divorce papers to get what they need, and the other spouse effectively putting their signature to what often amounts to a pack of lies about themselves.

In the worst cases, it will only lead to added animosity, which in turn is exceptionally damaging to children – more so than the divorce itself.

Traditionalists might like the fact it is not easy to divorce. But it is never easy to divorce, no matter how complicated the process. Added to that, it is a human right to be able to escape a destructive, toxic or simply deeply unhappy marriage.