Sir: Apropos Polly Toynbee's column ("Labour must save the people, not their marriages", 24 July), I manage one of the first five pilot projects offering "Information Meetings" to people contemplating divorce or separation.
Whilst the Family Law Act 1996 aims to support marriage, it recognises that divorce will still happen and in 1999 it will be granted upon only one ground: "the irretrievable breakdown" of a marriage.
The purpose of the Individual Information Meeting, which can be for up to one hour, or a 30-minute meeting which offers a further opportunity for attendance at a one hour group session, is to give people a chance to consider in an "informed" way, the options available to them, the implications of actions they may propose taking and, crucially, the welfare and well- being of their children.
Over a good many years working in the field of marital conflict, I have heard many people say ruefully, "I never really meant to get a divorce" or "I never meant it to get this far".
I believe the Family Law Act 1996 is a very civilised piece of legislation - it is not a vehicle for moralising, nor is it a "back to basics" ploy. It seeks to ensure that prospective divorcees have the knowledge that gives them the power to retain control over their own and their children's future.
If the "irretrievable" breakdown has occurred, they should consequently be able to move forward in a more positive way, having had the time and the knowledge to reflect upon their situation and arrive at an informed decision.
Leicestershire & East Midlands
Information Meetings Project