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Divorce rates will rise if fault’s removed, that’s the goal

Recently, a study conducted by pro-marriage group The Marriage Foundation discovered that the divorce rate in the UK is at its lowest in 30 years. Coincidentally, this finding was made within weeks of it having been announced that the UK government intended to discuss the possibility of introducing no-fault divorce to the UK – something that has led socially conservative commentators to argue that introducing no-fault divorce will lead to the unnecessary breakdown of thousands of families. Whilst these claims are baseless, there is one argument critics have put forward that is entirely accurate: that introducing no-fault divorce to the UK will result in an increased divorce rate.

Whilst it may be logical to conclude that an increase in the divorce rate will lead to a larger number of families becoming fragmented, this is because people forget that separation and divorce are not the same thing. In fact, it is separation, not divorce, that results in one spouse leaving the marital home and, should things then go awry, children becoming estranged from one of their parents.

The irony is that making divorce harder does not help parents or children. The very opposite is true: the vast majority of couples that separate will want to divorce and will want to do so as soon as possible. Also, the need to blame one party for the end of the marriage inevitably makes the divorce process adversarial which, in turn, creates or exacerbates existing animosity and makes it all the more difficult for the couple to provide their children with the stable and supportive co-parenting they’re certain to need following their parents having broken up.

What’s more, the most sophisticated research studies focussing on how separation and divorce affects children indicate that it is their parents’ behaviour following the event that is most likely to have an adverse and long-term effect on their emotional wellbeing. This can potentially lead to behavioural problems as well as negatively impact educational and even professional development.

Yes, the introduction of no-fault divorce will result in an increased divorce rate; what it won’t do is push happy couples and their families apart. It will simply make it significantly easier for couples that want a divorce to get one without the need to get their former spouse’s back up. This will produce divorces that are significantly less likely to become nasty and – as this is in the best interested of all parties – can only be seen as a good thing.

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