No fault divorce Bill is back before Parliament

(Photo: Unsplash/Zoriana Stakhniv)

A Bill to push through the biggest shake-up of divorce laws for half a century is back before Parliament.

Christian campaign groups warn that the no-fault divorce Bill is "damaging" and will only make an increase in divorce "inevitable". 

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will eliminate the need for one partner to find "fault" with their spouse's behaviour, such as "unreasonable behaviour" or adultery.  Instead, one spouse or both partners can make a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

The Bill will also remove the possibility for a partner to contest the divorce, and shorten the length of time that it takes for divorces to be finalised to six months.

The Bill was first introduced in June 2019 but was postponed with the suspension of Parliament.  It was re-introduced to Parliament this week with the promise to end the "blame game". 

The Government argues that the changes will ease the impact of unnecessary conflict on couples and children.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: "The institution of marriage will always be vitally important, but we must never allow a situation where our laws exacerbate conflict and harm a child's upbringing.

"Our reforms will stop divorcing couples having to make unnecessary allegations against one another and instead help them focus on separating amicably.

"By sparing individuals the need to play the blame game, we are stripping out the needless antagonism this creates so families can better move on with their lives." 

Christian advocacy group CARE has called the proposals "damaging" and "thoughtless". 

"The lack of scrutiny is significant, given that this is the largest shake up to Britain's divorce laws in years," it said

"We have serious concerns about the stated aims of the Government and the way no-reason divorce will play out in reality.

"Children need safe, stable and nurturing relationships to thrive. These thoughtless proposals will undermine marriage and damage children in the long term.

"We will once again work hard to oppose this new Bill and uphold the Christian vision of stable families that benefit all of society."

The Coalition for Marriage has called the Bill a "marriage wrecker's charter" that reduces the opportunity for reconciliation. 

"Inevitably the number of divorces will rocket. The cost to society will be enormous," it said.

"Research overwhelmingly shows that children typically fare better in married households compared to those in broken homes. Easy divorce is not in the interests of children.

"Public policy should focus on saving saveable marriages." 

The Christian Institute has similarly warned that an increase in divorce will be the "inevitable" consequence of the changes.

"Tragically, thousands more marriages will end, with all the trauma and sorrow that will bring," said deputy director Ciarán Kelly.