We’ve seen David Gauke’s no-fault divorce plans before – in the Soviet Union
This week, Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke was busy accepting plaudits for his no-fault divorce Bill.
The media has treated us to divorce lawyers lining up to give their approval to this undermining of marriage.
Before they all get carried away, it’s worth noting where this has been tried before. Our cultural elites – so cavalier with the institution of marriage – seem blissfully unaware that they are following the path once trod by communist Russia.
Early communism aggressively promoted cohabitation and equated it with marriage.
Early communism aggressively promoted cohabitation and equated it with marriage. The 1918 Family Code severed the concept of marriage from that of the family.
Alexander Goikhbarg, a key author of the 1918 Code, boasted: “Marriage in Soviet legislation has ceased to be a prison… a union lifelong in principle, concluded for a whole lifetime, indissoluble.”
Marriage was no longer to be considered a lifelong commitment.
The 1926 Family Code gave further rights to cohabitees and speeded up divorce to just three days. Between 1926 and 1927 an already high divorce rate rose by nearly 70 per cent. Notice could be given via the post.
The destruction of family life began to unravel the very fabric of Russian society.
It is necessary to put an end to the anarchist view of marriage and childbirth as an exclusively private affair.
Pro-Soviet author Maurice Hindus wrote that the “social bonds of family life” were “in process of dissolution”. Immense problems were posed by family instability. More than 300,000 homeless children were left to wander the streets.
Eventually, even Lenin was appalled at the consequences of his regime’s policies. Russia’s leaders had to act. The deputy chairman of the Supreme Court said in 1936: “It is necessary to put an end to the anarchist view of marriage and childbirth as an exclusively private affair”.
By 1944, Stalin’s Family Edict had returned divorce proceedings to the courts. Cohabitation was no longer treated as equivalent to marriage.
The history lesson is clear: marriage and society were hugely undermined by quick, no-fault divorce. This should serve as a stark warning. The impact of divorce on society and individuals is far more serious than David Gauke or the Government would have us believe.
Justice Minister Paul Maynard claimed the Bill would not make divorce more common, quicker or easier. This lacks any credibility. Easier divorce means more divorce.
The Government should abandon this misguided, ill-judged policy and throw the weight of the state behind marriage, rather than driving couples apart.