Baroness Deech of Cumnor: Our divorce laws are unfair to men and degrading to women

Share
Related Topics

It is surprising that feminists have remained silent on the issue of divorce, where one might expect a clear and demanding female voice. There has not been one since Baroness Summerskill opposed the 1969 divorce reform.

Presumably it is because women have diametrically opposed personal interests in ease of divorce. For every woman abandoned by her husband, there is another who is glad to have the opportunity to marry or live with a divorced man.

Yet it is clear that if women ought to be protesting as a sex against anything, it is against easy divorce and a high divorce rate. The law claims to "protect" them through maintenance, but it is not that sometimes illusionary financial protection that is needed, but the presence of the complete family.

If we are serious about the need to hold or reverse the rise in divorce, then there are two ways forward. One is by education of young persons still at school. The advantages and disadvantages of educating young people about smoking and food have been explored. They certainly hear the messages, even if they do not heed them, and some may say that it has done some good.

There is no reason not to try the same approach in relation to divorce. Marriage education could be coupled with the existing sex education programmes, each reinforcing the other. A marriage education programme could focus on the factors that are known to make for a happy or unhappy marriage, the financial costs of splitting up, the dangers to children of broken marriages, the paternal role, and the career prospects and post-divorce situation of women.

It is not necessary to antagonise teachers or public opinion by attaching any particular political or religious agenda: one need only let the facts speak for themselves. Sadly, these changes will take a long time to prepare and to take effect.

The other remedy is to tighten divorce procedures by insisting on a delay before freedom to remarry in divorces based on the adultery or unreasonable behaviour grounds, which can be processed so quickly at the moment.

This is an edited extract from a lecture given by the crossbench peer to Gresham College yesterday, part of an ongoing series

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital