End of the 'quickie' divorce proposed: Green Paper says couples seeking split should be interviewed (CORRECTED)

CORRECTION (PUBLISHED 8 DECEMBER 1993) INCORPORATED INTO THIS ARTICLE

THE MOST radical proposals for reforming divorce law for 25 years were unveiled yesterday, signalling longer delays for most couples.

In the Green Paper released yesterday by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay, all couples intending divorce would have to wait 12 months and attend a diagnostic centre for information on mediation, marriage guidance, the law and the consequences of break-up.

It signalled the end of the 'quickie' divorce for adultery or unreasonable behaviour, but it equally emphasises that the 12 months' wait would, as Lord Mackay put it, be a 'period with a purpose' - linked to a new emphasis on using mediation, not courts, to handle the aftermath of a decision to split up.

While consultative, the paper heavily endorses the Law Commission's 1990 proposal that the sole ground for divorce in England and Wales should be that a marriage has irretrievably broken down, proved by the passage of the 12-month period for reflection and making practical arrangements.

To meet the objectives of encouraging mediation while cutting legal aid costs, the paper, Looking to the Future: Mediation and the Ground for Divorce, proposes a single 'first port of call' - a compulsory one-hour interview - for everyone wanting to initiate a divorce.

The interview, not necessarily with a lawyer, could lead to appointments for mediation or marriage-guidance counselling. Or, the paper hopes, a decision by the couple to go away and reflect further.

While couples will retain the right to handle their own divorce - including consulting their own lawyers - those judged as behaving unreasonably will have any publicly funded assistance withdrawn.

Crucially, whoever conducts the initial interview - possibly a new independent divorce service, court welfare officers or local mediation services - will decide whether public money should be allocated.

Lord Mackay yesterday made clear his personal opposition to retaining fault as one of the 'facts' to prove irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, while emphasising his belief that each partner's first priority should be to try to save it.

'I personally cannot see how fault as a doctrine helps support the institution of marriage,' he said. 'It seems to be the opposite. If you want to subvert your marriage you allege fault.

'It is more likely to be constructive if 'I examine my own conduct, and my part in bringing my marriage to an end'.'

But as a summarised companion paper, free to the public, puts it: 'The law cannot make two people continue to love each other. All it can do is to help protect spouses and children and adjust their living arrangements when things go wrong.'

Lord Mackay told a news conference yesterday that he was aiming for a system that was better at identifying saveable marriages. 'Where divorce is unavoidable, I would like to see arrangements in place that minimise bitterness and conflict between the parties and reduce the trauma for the children.' His proposals would not make divorce easier, as a whole, he said. 'In some ways they would be tougher; they would force couples to accept responsibility rather than cast blame; and many more would have to wait a full year before getting their divorce, rather than six months or so as at present.'

The proposals appeared to have won over sceptical ministers in the vanguard of the 'family values' campaign. John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales and a right- winger, predicted 'widespread acceptance' of the paper.

Sue Slipman of the National Council for One-Parent Families said: 'We remain concerned that legal aid should be available for women who seek remedies in the court where their spouses effectively hide the true worth of their assets.'

UK MARRIAGE FAILURE RATE WORST IN EUROPE

One in three marriages in the UK is destined to end in divorce.

The UK's divorce rate is the highest in Europe at 150,000 a year.

Half of all divorced fathers lose contact with their children under the current system.

The likely average cost of mediation over children and financial issues will be about pounds 550 - one-third of the current average cost per case.

The legal aid bill for matrimonial cases in 1993 was pounds 180m.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone