Letter: Divorcing couples need more time

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The Independent Online
Sir: Writing as one who was married in 1962, separated in 1979 and divorced since 1983, with three children, I too would like to take issue with Lord Mackay on changes to the divorce law ('Ministers want family values in divorce law', 2 November). I think the law reforms should be divided: to go ahead with the 'no fault' divorce, where there are no children, after a wait of 12 months.

However, where there are children I do think the 'spirit' of the law matters. If the time is reduced to 12 months this will undoubtedly give the impression that divorce is easier, however well intentioned Lord Mackay is. Will it actually happen? When dealing with lawyers and emotions of that sort, a year is a very short time. If the couple wish to separate physically there is nothing to prevent them from living apart; all it does do is prevent one or both leaping into another marriage, and gives time for very serious thought.

It seems to me we are constantly pushing back the frontiers of divorce: people are separating for more and more petty reasons. My ex-husband, as he was leaving, said what he was doing would have been socially unacceptable 20 years before. I know of several couples splitting because one member is bored. It invariably is only one who wants the break - I cannot think of any couple where it is a mutual decision. I hope Lord Mackay, while meaning well, will realise that this is not enough and that an ample amount of time should be allowed for deciding on divorce rather than the minimum.

Yours truly,

ROSANNE RICHARDSON

Oxford

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