‘Help married couples stay together, don’t push them apart’, says Institute Director

Society should be doing more to help married couples stay together, not making it easier for them to split up, the Director of The Christian Institute has said.

Colin Hart was speaking out on BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action programme, during a debate hosted by legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg.

Mr Hart was responding to activists’ calls to introduce a ‘no fault’ divorce system.

‘Stay together’

Currently in England and Wales, a couple are required to prove their marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’.

Divorce claimants must cite adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation when the divorce is consensual, or five years’ separation otherwise.

Mr Hart cautioned that dispensing with these constraints would be bad for society, asking, “Are we trying to save marriages or facilitate their divorce?”

“Society should do everything to help get those couples to stay together. And that’s the problem with making divorce easier, what it ends up doing is leading to more divorces”.

Responsible spouse

Jo Edwards, former chairwoman of family lawyers group Resolution, claimed on the programme that a change to a ‘no fault’ system was needed.

However, Joshua Rozenberg challenged this, saying that assigning fault “is very important” to people going through a divorce.

“People break their marriage vows, they commit adultery and their spouses resent it”, he pointed out.

He added “Surely it’s right that they should be allowed to bring a petition based on adultery or on behaviour which they can’t reasonably be expected to put up with, in order to establish who is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage?”

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