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

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The Independent Online
From Mr Steve Jenkins

Sir: In her stimulating and thought-provoking look at divorce ("Till death, dispute or boredom do us part, 28 April), Polly Toynbee claims that Lord Mackay's White Paper "marks the final failure of the Gummers, the Archbishops, the Chief Rabbis and others who have been trying for years to devise laws that will prevent people leaving one another".

Welcoming the White Paper, as reported in the same issue ("Church welcomes changes", 28 April), would seem to be a strange response from the Church of England to such a perceived defeat.

It would be fair to point out that the Divorce Reform Act 1969 was partly based on the report Putting Asunder, a divorce law for contemporary society, which was commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The same report, published in 1966, called for no-fault divorce. In fact, not only did it recommend the doctrine of breakdown over the doctrine of matrimonial offence, it pointed to voluntary mediation as the way to reduce the pain of separation, as well as being an opportunity for reconciliation.

Yours faithfully,


Press Officer

The General Synod of the Church of England

London, SW1

28 April