LETTER : Children's welfare shopuld be a priority in reform of divorce law

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From Mr Bruce Lidington

Sir: The uncritical welcome given to the Lord Chancellor's proposals for divorce law reform by your front-page article "Panel will control right to divorce" (26 April) is a cause for concern.

The hopes and wishes expressed by these proposals regarding increased mediation and less acrimony are very worthy but they are not to be enacted as an essential part of the legislation. If the White Paper reflects its previous documentation accurately, it will suggest the following process.

The situation currently termed "decree nisi" will become immediately available upon unilateral demand. There will then be a one-month moratorium for reflection. Following this period, the applicant will be encouraged to employ the full armoury of litigation (Children Act proceedings, property- transfers, Child Support Agency involvement etc) to force a full settlement within 11 months. No allegation of fault will be required to instigate the divorce but fault will play a much-enhanced part in the ancillary proceedings.

These proposals show no understanding of the human realities of divorce. They will only make the process quicker and easier for administrative purposes while leading to increased stress and conflict for the parties and their families.

Yours faithfully,

BRUCE LIDINGTON

Chairman

Families Need Fathers

London, EC2

26 April

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