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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Britain’s addiction to divorce

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So Sir Paul Coleridge, one of the country’s leading family court judges, has launched his campaign to promote marriage. Heralded as a champion for weddings in some of the newspapers, he has lashed out at the country’s apparent “divorce addiction” fuelled by celebrity magazines like Hello! and believes there is clear proof that married couples are more likely to stay together. 

He also said there was evidence that children with settled families performed better in education and went on to get better jobs, while a trend towards older couples splitting up once their children had left home was disturbing. 

Good for him. We knew his new marriage support service was coming (though I’m still not sure exactly what it does) as he has spoken about it a few times in the last months, and I have commented on it, but it is fantastic to see someone in his position following words with action. Too often we see those in the loftier reaches of the legal profession talking about what should happen but very little action to make it so. It is great that he manages to encapsulate so many issues in this one crusade. 

Sir Paul has been married for nearly 40 years and has three children so he knows a bit about family life. We should take note when he says things like “'Marriage is not something that falls out of the sky ready-made on to beautiful people in white linen suits. It involves endless hard work, compromises, forgiveness and love." 

“In order for a relationship to last, you have to hang in there and adjust and change and alter and understand. Long, stable marriages are carved out of the rock of human stubbornness and selfishness and difficulties.” 

These wise words should be handed out on cards to newlyweds who can then display them around their homes just to remind them what’s what when things get tough. 

The only note of caution I would sound is that we also need to make sure though that we don’t simply make it harder to divorce for those who really cannot go on in a relationship. There is nothing for anyone to gain by trudging on in a marriage that is not working and is doomed to making all connected to it unhappy. By all means, we should promote marriage, and champion working through problems as the correct route rather than turning to divorce on a whim, but we must also support those who really are at the end of their relationship’s road. 

For an additional insight into the thoughts of the population on this one, have a look through the reader comments under the Daily Mail article. Interesting points against but the majority in support of this move – though the most common comment appears to have been surprise at such common sense being spoken by a judge. 

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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