‘Divorce on demand’ challenged in House of Lords

No-fault divorce is “fundamentally flawed” and the Government has ignored its own consultation on the matter, the House of Lords has been told.

Numerous members of the House of Lords raised issues with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill at its Second Reading on Wednesday.

The Christian Institute has repeatedly warned against the plans, saying the proposals will increase the current levels of divorce.

Walk away

Under the existing law, one of five ‘facts’ must be proved to show that a marriage has broken down irretrievably.

These include matters of fault, such as adultery.

Under the new system, the five facts would be scrapped and an individual allowed to walk away from their marriage without having to give a reason and with no opportunity for their spouse to contest it.

‘Disagree’

Lord Farmer said the Bill was “fundamentally flawed because it not only ignores the urgent need to strengthen families but weakens them”.

The public did not vote for it or support it at consultation.

The former Conservative Party Treasurer said he was “in almost complete disagreement with the Government”, adding: “The public did not vote for it or support it at consultation”.

Lord Morrow, of the DUP, said the plans could discourage couples from fighting to save their marriage.

‘Vulnerable’

Crossbencher Baroness Howe of Idlicote raised concerns that the proposals left children “in a very vulnerable position”.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford, warned the Bill could cheapen the institution of marriage which involves an unconditional oath.

“The couples do not say to each other that they will stay with each other provided certain conditions are fulfilled.

“They say that they will be with each other through thick and thin, through joys and through the sorrows of unemployment, poverty, depression and Alzheimer’s.”

Negative

Conservative Peer Baroness Eaton criticised the way the Government had pressed on in the face of negative consultation responses.

She said: “83 per cent of those who responded disagreed with the Government’s proposal to remove the ability of a spouse who does not want divorce to contest the assertion that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, while only 15 per cent supported the plans”.

But Lord Keen of Elie, responding for the Government, claimed its approach was “sensible and proportionate”.

Committee Stage of the Bill will be held on 3 March.

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