I have received a number of emails from constituents regarding the no-fault divorce legislation which is before Parliament.
I can confirm to constituents that I will not be voting for this change in the divorce process. Whilst I do appreciate that some marriages do fail, I have decided not to vote for this change for a number of reasons.
There is the argument that having a reflection period within which reconciliation can occur can be incredibly valuable to many families who are considering divorce. It a fact that children who grow up in married households fare better than those who do not. Whilst I fully appreciate there are many children who have grown up in single parent households who have done incredibly well, having a ‘cooling off period’ on divorce can help keep families together and children with their parents.
Alongside this, when a couple commit to each other through marriage, they are at the same time accepting the marital system as it is – and the divorce mechanism as it is. They know when they take their vows that the process for revoking those vows is difficult and long, and they accept that.
The current process of divorce, which requires a couple to prove a reason for the breakdown, allows an opportunity for a couple to properly examine any issues they have, and prove that there is no way back from the breakdown they are facing. This examination process itself can lead to couples deciding that there may indeed be a path back to a happy marriage – 20,000 such couples (or around 10% of all those who commence divorce proceedings) decide to stay together each year.
Unhappy periods in a marriage are often temporary and allowing heat-of-the-moment decisions to be made would end salvageable partnerships.
I have been contacted by constituents who have concerns for those who have been in abusive relationships, and who worry that no-fault divorce could mean that they lose a public platform to highlight unacceptable behaviour by a spouse. They are also concerned that the new-found ease with which a partner can end a marriage could be used as a psychological weapon by an abusive partner.
I cannot support such legislative changes as they currently stand.