Press Release

‘No reason’ unilateral divorce laws set to undermine marriage and family

9 April 2019         Issued by: Christian Concern

Today, Justice Secretary, David Gauke has announced that divorce laws in England and Wales are to be overhauled in yet another move by the government that undermines the nature of marriage.

The new laws will essentially enable one partner in a marriage to unilaterally impose divorce on the other for no reason. This could result in the likely loss of family home and child care on the partner and any children involved where the partner has been faithful and wants to stay in the marriage.

Previously, under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, couples wanting a divorce could obtain one either by proving that their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour, or if both parties agree, they could divorce after having been separated for a minimum of two years. Alternatively, if the parties do not both agree to the divorce then a divorce can be obtained after having been separated for a minimum of five years.

As the biggest change in divorce law in 50 years, the government claims the so called ‘no fault’ divorce will stop the ‘blame-game’, lessen animosity between parents and will be less damaging for young children involved. However, there is no evidence that ‘no fault’ divorce lessens animosity between parents, and, in American states where similar laws have been implemented, there has actually been increases in divorce resulting in fewer protections for women and children.

Studies also show that children whose parents have separated had worse self-esteem than those whose parents argued but remained together, and that couples who persevere through periods of unhappiness in their marriage are likely to be glad they did so later. Studies predict that the new ‘no fault’ system will result in another 10,000 divorces a year.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, said: “‘No fault’ divorce is really ‘no reason’ divorce. How can the justice secretary say in one breath that he wants to uphold the institution of marriage when he is tearing it down, allowing people to walk away from their solemn promises to hold together in life-long commitment? Marriage matters for our children, and they need to know it matters. This legislation will make life less stable and more chaotic for them.

“Marriage is a solemn, life-long promise before God to love and care for another person; the availability of unilateral divorce renders this promise meaningless. Marriage is supposed to take work, and the effort pays off. When that bond is broken, it leaves mess and brokenness for all involved. Reports show that family breakdown costs the average taxpayer over £1,800 a year. How much more must we needlessly sacrifice?

“These laws now mean that one partner can impose divorce on the other and any children, forcing them to move house and break up the family. This amounts to ‘unilateral divorce’ where one partner is imposing divorce on the other. Studies have shown that children do better with married parents, even if those parents are in conflict. No-one seems to care about the effects this law will have  on children and vulnerable women by making one-sided unilateral divorce legal.”

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