Letter: Flaws in the Divorce Bill

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a lawyer I find the Divorce Bill flawed from every angle. The Lord Chancellor and his department seem concerned that the system causes bitterness and unfairness; in the context of the scale of the unhappiness created by a marriage breakdown, the divorce process itself is now of little significance.

Maybe it might be used as a weapon ... but I can't recall injustice created by the Decree Absolute in 18 years practice. The injustice comes where one spouse casts off the other, clears off to live with another, and makes little or no attempt to act fairly with regard to money, children etc. Changing the divorce procedure won't cure that.

Then there's the one year to 18 months time "for reflection". Tell that to the wife who's just been beaten insensible or raped, or to the husband who discovers his wife is producing another man's child. In less extreme cases, spouses generally decide on divorce after a great deal of "reflection", why can't our elected representatives respect that? For most it's a painful process; the last thing thoughtful and sensitive people need is to be told to reflect for another year or so.

Mediation? I cannot recall a divorce which was either a "cry for help" or where the marriage was saveable. If my experience is non-representative, then where are the people queuing to marry each other again?

Of course I share concerns about the divorce rate. But isn't the remedy for that to be found at the other end, the beginning, when people get married too lightly? There's more logic in premarriage counselling. Before they get married people can still talk to each other and some might even listen.

Peter Kent

Oxford

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