Disappointment after MPs approve no-fault divorce

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The Christian Institute has voiced disappointment after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of sweeping changes to divorce law in England and Wales. 

In the most radical shake-up of divorce laws for half a century, the reforms will shorten the time needed to be granted a divorce to six months and eliminate the need for spouses to prove unreasonable behaviour.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is due to come into effect in autumn 2021 after concluding its passage through the House of Commons yesterday. 

During the debate last night, MPs rejected one amendment to lengthen the period of time from six months to a year. 

Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, was one of those who spoke out against the Bill, saying "it sends out the wrong message at the wrong time".

"No-fault divorce is really state-approved unilateral divorce," she said.

"Ministers like to say that it is all about the divorce process and not about marriage. They are wrong. The removal of fault sends out the signal that marriage can be unilaterally exited with no available recourse for the party who has been left."

She added: "Making divorce easier and quicker will inevitably change the nature of the commitment that is made when marrying, because those doing so will recognise that it is something that can be exited easily and quickly, without having to prove that the relationship has broken down."

Sir Edward Leigh said the Government was sending the wrong message "that marriage is not one of the most precious things in the world", as he warned that "the worst-off will be hurt the most."

Responding to the vote - which came on the same day as Parliament approved extreme abortion regulations for Northern Ireland - The Christian Institute said it was "deeply disappointed" by the way in which MPs had "ignored concerns over the damage this will inflict on families and society for generations".

"The Bible teaches that God designed marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6)," said the institute's Ciarán Kelly.

"It also makes clear that all human life is created in God's image and so is intrinsically valuable from conception (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 139:14-16). These truths remain, whatever the politicians may say."