C4MCoalition for Marriage (C4M) writeAs if it wasn’t bad enough that the Government wants to allow divorce in just six months, it’s now rushing the changes through Parliament. Just one day, Wednesday 17 June, has been given for MPs to further consider the Bill.

Then it will be passed, and every married person in England and Wales will suddenly find themselves in a different legal relationship than the one they entered. As one MP said earlier this week, this change to marriage means “the vows made at the beginning have no legal force”.

Thankfully, some MPs who believe in marriage are trying to do what they can to improve the Bill. Amendments have been proposed by MPs including Sir Edward Leigh, Fiona Bruce and Sir John Hayes. Among other things these would make divorce take at least a year, require better funding of marriage counselling and put a duty on the Government to publish a report on the consequences of the change.

Since it now looks as if this Bill cannot be stopped, we back the amendments these MPs have tabled to reduce its impact. Please ask your MP  to support amendments put forward by Sir Edward Leigh, Fiona Bruce and Sir John Hayes. Even those who support the Bill might be willing to accept some changes.

Please tell your MP that:

Six months is not enough time for couples to think again. Divorce should take a minimum of a year.

  • The benefits of marriage for society mean it should be a priority to save saveable marriages. It is  key that marriage counselling services are given more funding.
  • The Government’s insistence that the Bill will not increase divorce in the long-term defies credibility. Having to publish an official report on the impact of the Bill means this can be challenged.
  • You could also put some of these arguments into your own words:
  • making divorce quicker and easier will increase divorce. In 2018 almost 40,000 divorces were on a separation basis. This means the couple have had at least two years to reflect before getting divorced. The plans will drastically speed up tens of thousands of divorces, removing the opportunity for reconciliation.
  • Marriage vows matter. These plans trivialise marriage promises by saying they can be broken with impunity. They create instability and uncertainty in marriage.
  • Research overwhelmingly shows that children normally fare better in married households compared to those in broken homes. Making divorce even easier is not in the interests of children.
  • 80% of responses to the Government’s consultation were against the changes the Bill introduces.
  • The plans would redefine marriages that already exist. People who are married did not sign up to an arrangement that allowed their spouse to unilaterally end the marriage without cause or a significant period of separation.
  • Previous amendments to divorce law have increased divorce. Changes in the 1970s saw the number of divorces in England and Wales rocket from 58,239 in 1970 to 148,301 by 1980.
  • The state should be encouraging personal responsibility by supporting those who want to stay true to their word and make their marriages work, not helping break them up.
Categories: Corrrespondence