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Marriage and Family

Govt ignoring public views over divorce law changes

9 April 2019

The Government is wilfully ignoring public opposition to its controversial changes to divorce law across England and Wales, according to social policy charity CARE.

The Government wants to introduce a notification system for divorce, to replace the previous ‘five facts’ system which it claims will make the process easier.

The changes amount to ‘no reason’ divorce, where a spouse can unilaterally end a marriage without having to give any real reason.

Under the changes, if one spouse wants out, they will be able to do so in six months and their spouse, who made what they regarded as a serious till death us do part commitment, will have no rights to contest this at all.

This fundamentally undermines the nature of the marriage commitment.

Now, the Government has finally published its response to the public consultation on the changes and it reveals that a staggering 80% of those who responded do not agree with the proposal to replace the five facts with a notification process, while a mere 17% were in favour.

The results also showed 83% of those who responded disagreed with the Government’s proposals to remove the ability to contest as a general rule, while only 15% supported the plans.

Despite this overwhelming opposition, the Government is still intent on pushing ahead with the plans, making a complete mockery of the consultation process.

CARE’s Family Policy Officer, Jonathan Williams said:

“The Government’s divorce law proposals are evidently very unpopular which raises all manner of questions about why they are just going ahead, with such scant regard for public opposition.

“To dismiss the public opposition as the result of campaign groups is one of the most absurd excuses I’ve seen in a long time.

“The fact that 80% of people do not agree with the Government’s main proposal to reform current divorce law should be enough to make the Government think again.

“Or what about the fact even more people – 83% - do not agree with the plans to remove the ability to contest as a general rule?

“But to just push ahead regardless makes an utter mockery of the consultation process and is a disgraceful way to treat those who took the time to respond.

No wonder public faith in the democratic process is so low, with public consultations becoming mere tick box exercises by an executive already determined to do what it wants, regardless.

“For all its rhetoric about supporting marriage, by its actions the Government is doing the exact opposite.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For interview requests or more information please contact James Mildred: james.mildred@care.org.uk // 07717516814

CARE is a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives. CARE is represented in the UK Parliaments and Assemblies.

The responses to the Government’s consultation can be found here (they are in Appendix A): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/793642/reducing-family-conflict-consult-response.pdf

Summary of responses to question 2: In principle, do you agree with the proposal to replace the five facts with a notification process?

Yes 546 (17%)

No 2,614 (80%)

Undecided 99 (3%)

Total responses: 3,259

Summary of responses to question 8: Do you agree with the proposal to remove the ability to contest as a general rule?

Yes: 484 (15%)

No: 2,644 (83%)

Undecided: 55 (2%)

Total: 3,183

In this piece, Jonathan argues that the proposals will have a detrimental effect on children: https://care.org.uk/news/latest-news/blog-why-government%E2%80%99s-divorce-proposals-are-bad-childrenFor a fuller explanation as to why the Government’s proposals will undermine marriage see here: https://care.org.uk/news/latest-news/blog-government-divorce-proposals-undermine-marriage

The press release from the Ministry of Justice can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-divorce-law-to-end-the-blame-game

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Marriage and Family

Strong families are foundational to a healthy society. Marriages too are vital, representing the gold standard of commitment. CARE is committed to upholding both.

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