Letter: Minimising the hurt of divorce

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The Independent Online
Sir: Olivia Timbs's article 'Divorce is bad for you, try again' (1 September) demonstrates what someone learns by coming fresh to the facts of divorce; she positively urges people to face them before they embark on the enterprise.

A feature of the recession could be that more people consider the costs and 'turn back' (one of the Lord Chancellor's hopes). The Law Commission's proposals to change the divorce law require couples to do just that - to reflect upon their marriages and consider the consequences before they can be legally divorced.

For those for whom the journey may be unavoidable, the National Family Conciliation Council established nearly 60 conciliation or mediation services during the Eighties. These help parents to minimise the hurt to themselves and their children by creating the kind of modus vivendi which, as Ms Timbs describes, can be made to work by a couple who struggle to co-operate in their divorce.

The irony is that those services are also adversely affected by the recession, and that the NFCC, which has evolved to develop and maintain their skills, is considering its precarious future if the Government puts off much longer the decision about whether to encourage the provision of mediation in a practical way.

The argument that if we wait there will be no more divorces is too unrealistic to be called a policy. Is it not better (and urgent), particularly during a recession when family costs of all kinds are so much greater, to encourage the caution of couples by changing the divorce law and to finance the services that they will need to assist them with their reflection and consideration?

Yours sincerely,


Conciliation Director

National Family

Conciliation Council

Swindon, Wiltshire