Changing our divorce laws would be dangerous and foolhardy

Aug 2, 2018

Last week the Supreme Court upheld our existing divorce laws in the case of Owens v. Owens.

While these laws are not perfect, they provide some protections for the person being divorced: they can contest the grounds of divorce and gain a period of time to work towards reconciliation.

Each year 10,000 divorce petitions are abandoned before the proceedings are complete. Not all of these couples will be reconciled as a result of the delays built into the current system, but many will. Those marriages are saved.

However, many lawyers and judges want us to abandon this system of protections.

They want so-called ‘no-fault’ divorce, allowing either spouse to leave a marriage for any reason with the full support of the state and the legal system. Divorces could not be contested or delayed and would complete automatically in a short time frame.

As I wrote in a letter published by the Times (£) last week:

The real effect of no-fault divorce would be felt by spouses far more vulnerable. Changing the law to allow a wife of 40 years to walk out of her marriage without cause and with the full support of the state [the issue in Owens v. Owens] would incentivise personal irresponsibility.

It would also mean the law supporting a husband to divorce his wife because he finds the rigours of caring for a new baby too exacting, or a wife to divorce a husband because he has been diagnosed with a serious illness. No reasonable person would wish to live in a society where the most important promise of one’s life counted for so little.

The Coalition for Marriage has taken the lead in opposing this wholesale destruction of protections for spouses in our current divorce laws.

We have written to and received assurances from ministers that our views will be taken into account as the Government considers whether to change policy.

We have produced a comprehensive resource for supporters and policy makers outlining the case against no-reason divorce.

And we continue to speak out in the press, opposing these harmful measures.

Thank you as ever for your support which allows us to do this. We will keep you updated on the progress of our campaign in this area.

This is an extract from one of the Coalition for Marriage’s regular communications with its supporters. If you would like to register as a marriage supporter and receive these updates, you may do so here.