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The Independent Culture
Birth. School. Job. Marriage... Divorce. The days when it was rare and shameful, almost a mark of perfidy or profound failure, are long gone. About one in three current British marriages is destined to end in a decree absolute. But that hardly lessens the pain. For many of us, no experience except bereavement compares

in terms of grief. For every amicable smooth parting there are many others which lead only to chaos and poverty. The average partner will lose 40 per cent of his

or her income after divorce. Lord MacKay's new bill, abolishing 'quickie' divorces but making couples undergo a year's mediation, is meant to help prevent the very worst of it. In this report by David Cohen, we hear the testimony of men and women either divorced or divorcing. Here are stories of new lives, old lives and half-lives. Illustration by Irene von Treskow. Portraits by James Cant