Sep 28, 2018

The ink was barely dry on the Government’s ‘no-fault’ divorce consultation papers when Sir James Munby again called for the legal protections of marriage to be given to unmarried couples this week.

In a speech reported by the Times (£), the retired judge who was the most senior family court judge in England and Wales until recently, said:

“Reform is inevitable. It is inconceivable that society will not in due course have righted this injustice.”

The campaign to remove protections from married couples by abolishing the need to prove fault and introducing fast-track, six-month divorces was led by current and former judges.

Like that campaign, the demands to give marriage rights to people who have opted out of them by not marrying are being supported by the unelected judiciary whose job it is to interpret the law, not re-make it.

They will not stop until every legal feature of marriage that makes it unique and valuable has been ground away.


The Coalition for Marriage has been fighting a largely lone battle against ‘no-fault’ divorce for the reasons we set out here. Our Campaign Director has recently argued the case on Radio 4 and BBC Essex.

Last week the Marriage Foundation, which supports abolishing fault-based divorce, wrote an open letter defending its stance.

They argued that the current law is sometimes ignored in practice so must be changed. But this is an argument for abolishing every law that falls into the same category, from drug laws to speed limits.

They argued that the data supports them, citing a single study covering just 51 couples who abandoned their divorce and claiming that only one couple reconciled.

The data says no such thing. The researchers guessed that five of the 51 couples changed their mind, and a further 10 abandoned their petitions so early that no guess at their reasons could be made.

I have no doubt that the judiciary, active and retired, giving their good name to these reforms are clever and well-intentioned. But they are also shockingly unwise.

Making divorce easier makes marriage less secure and less attractive. It really is as simple as that.

Every year Ministry of Justice figures tell us that 10,000 couples abandon their divorces before completion. Moving to a ‘conveyor-belt’ system would threaten those marriages by removing the opportunity to think again.

Rest assured that the Coalition for Marriage will continue to actively oppose these plans.