Adulterers used to flock to Brighton. Now it's divorcees

The first divorce fair has set its stalls out in the seaside town, to the chagrin of church leaders

Emily Dugan@emilydugan
Sunday 08 March 2009 01:00

It was bound to happen. Prompted by an explosion in the popularity of wedding fairs, the UK will see its first divorce fair next Sunday.

Divorces have largely been sombre affairs, spared the hysteria and consumerism associated with "the big day". But the Starting Over Show in Brighton is expected to bring hundreds of divorcees or couples considering a split together with lawyers, accountants, counsellors, dating agencies, image consultants and even chocolate sellers touting for business.

The show's organiser, Suzy Miller, said the fair's 30 exhibitors would put a more positive slant on the process. "I thought the best thing was to look at what to do next, and there's a strong emphasis on moving on," she said.

Ms Miller had the idea for the show after she divorced her husband and was left with little support. "When I heard about divorce fairs that were happening in Europe, my first reaction was to laugh – then I thought about it for five minutes and realised it was fantastic", she said. "I knew it was a very lonely time, and there didn't seem to be any resources out there.

"People assumed that mostly women would come, but a quarter of the tickets sold have gone to men."

Kirsten Gronning is a divorce coach and founder of the company Breakup Angels, which brings together break-up experts, including lawyers and financial advisers. She will be exhibiting at the show and running a debt workshop. She is convinced that far from being a depressing collection of bitter divorcees, the fair will be uplifting.

"I think it's the combination of information and inspiration", she said. "There's people offering legal, financial and relationship advice, but there are also a shoe-seller and holiday company, which should lighten it up a bit."

A spokesman for the Church of England, however, said he was concerned: "If this is people trying to sell their services and persuading people that divorce is the only course of action, because of their own business interests, we would want to condemn it in fairly strong terms."

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