CofE challenges Govt on ‘no-fault divorce’

Radical changes to the law on divorce do nothing to help couples reconcile and have not been “sufficiently thought through”, the Church of England has warned.

Under the Government’s proposals a spouse who is being divorced against their will has no opportunity to contest or slow down the proceedings to allow more time to seek reconciliation.

It will also do away with the current system that includes the requirement to demonstrate fault in a marriage or wait for the relevant separation period.

Breakdown

Speaking at the General Synod on Friday, the Bishop of Durham said the proposals “fell down on a number of points”.

He explained that the Church had made a fulsome submission to the Government consultation, in which it criticised the concept of no-fault divorce.

The Bishop said “all marital breakdown involves some fault, although not necessarily on one side only”.

Resilience

He said the Church had argued that the Government’s proposal “did nothing to encourage reflection and re-examination of the marital situation”, or “support the resilience of marriages”. It also “removed the important element of consent”.

He added that while the Church “shared the Government’s objective of reducing family conflict, it was not persuaded that the proposals on divorce had been sufficiently thought through”.

Writing for the Law Society, respected lawyer Joshua Rozenberg said there was “no doubt” the Government was introducing “divorce on demand”.

Commitment

Last month in the House of Commons, Jim Shannon MP warned that the legislation promotes marriages that prioritise “individual freedom and liberty” rather than “self-giving, sacrifice and commitment”.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is currently at report stage in the House of Commons.

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