Cashing in on divorce condemned by critics

To have a divorce party or give a divorce gift is like celebrating a miscarriage, according to a columnist writing for a national newspaper.

Virginia Ironside, commenting on the news that department store Debenhams has launched a new Divorce List service alongside its Wedding List service, said “there is no such thing as a ‘good divorce'”.

Writing for the Daily Mail she said “a divorce is the end of a marriage that was originally made with love, respect, kindness and attraction, a contract that was intended to last, lovingly, for the rest of your lives.

“Every single person who was once married must have had some moments, at the beginning of the relationship, when they could see how it might work.”

Miss Ironside, who is an agony aunt for The Independent, accused Debenhams of cashing in on trends set by celebrities such as Katie Price and Heather Mills, who both celebrated their divorces with parties and presents.

She commented: “On Monday, Debenhams cynically cashed in on the fact that Britain has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, by announcing its divorce list — a divorce version of the wedding list — with suggestions of useful presents to give to someone recently divorced, such as toasters, TVs, sound systems and the like.”

Another media commentator, Cassandra Jardine, also hit out at Debenhams’ Divorce List.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph Mrs Jardine criticised the “ditsy, consumerist world of sitcom divorce” and referred to stories from those who regretted that their marriages had failed.

“‘I should have tried harder,’ one divorced woman confided to me recently”, she said. “Instead of freedom, she was discovering that loneliness, disoriented children and losing her home were the reality.”

She continued: “Another, setting off for her first solo holiday, echoed the recent words of Vanessa Feltz, a reluctant divorcee, whose advice to those considering parting is this: ‘Only go ahead if you are prepared for every joyous event for the rest of your life to be tainted and conflict-ridden.'”

Mrs Jardine cited research from Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice which shows that “children who don’t grow up in a two-parent family are ’75 per cent more likely to fail educationally, 70 per cent more likely to be addicted to drugs and 50 per cent more likely to have alcohol problems’.”

Two major reports published in 2008 also highlighted the damaging impact of divorce on children.

The National Child Development Study concluded that divorce has “repercussions that reverberate through childhood and into adulthood”, and a report by the Good Childhood Inquiry warned that family breakdown was a major cause of harm to children’s mental health.

Another 2008 study revealed that most under 10-year-olds would make divorce illegal if they ruled the world.

Last year it was revealed that people who divorce are likely to suffer long-term health problems including heart disease and cancer.

The research, carried out by Professor Linda Waite of the University of Chicago, found that lasting damage is caused by the stress and financial uncertainty experienced by divorcees.

In December a law firm specialising in family and divorce law was accused of trivialising divorce after selling divorce gift vouchers for Christmas.

The vouchers by Lloyd Platt & Company entitled recipients to a legal advice session with a lawyer.

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