Labor Government to Scrap Tory ´No-Fault´ Divorces

LONDON, JAN. 17, 2001, (

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No-fault divorce reforms introduced under the Tories are to be scrapped without being brought into effect, The Telegraph reported today.

Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor, confirmed that he would be asking Parliament to repeal Part II of the Family Law Act 1996 because its provisions had proved unworkable, the newspaper said. Far from saving marriages as intended, the reforms tended to push wavering couples toward divorce.

The Tory reforms were steered through Parliament by Lord Mackay, a Lord Chancellor who presented himself as someone with a religious commitment to the institution of marriage. Ironically, his proposals were seen as making divorce easier. Couples who had not lived apart would no longer need to make allegations of adultery or bad behavior to obtain a divorce.

On the other hand, there would have been a cooling off period of one year — or 18 months if there were children — before the marriage could be ended. Fundamental to the reforms was a plan for couples to attend compulsory “information meetings.” They were to save a marriage or to end it with minimum distress and acrimony.

In most cases, only the spouse seeking a divorce attended the meeting, though mediation depended on the willing involvement of both parties. The government is providing £4 million this year for “marriage and relationship support.” It is also helping to promote mediation as a way of settling disputes.

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