In Scotland: 'QUICKIE' DIVORCES WILL OPEN FLOODGATE
cmfce at his.com
Sat Sep 16 00:00:38 EDT 2000
subject: In Scotland: 'QUICKIE' DIVORCES WILL OPEN FLOODGATE
from: Smart Marriages
Friday, September 15, 2000
'QUICKIE' DIVORCES WILL OPEN FLOODGATE
A THIRD more Scottish couples will split up after quickie divorces
The Government's own figures show that the number of couples seeking
divorce will rise from 12,000 to 15,900 in the first year.
New proposals in the Family Law White Paper will mean couples only
need to be separated for a year before they can divorce.
The current time limit is two years where both parties consent.
Where there is no consent, the period of separation needed is to be
cut from five to two years.
Ministers claimed that although divorces would rise in the first year,
they would then tail off. But that was challenged by church leaders and
Father Danny McLaughlin, of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "We
believe that a lessening of the timeframe for divorces and making divorce
easier is not helpful as far as supporting marriage is concerned.
"It is lessening the value of marriage. If you can get out of what is
supposed to be a lifetime commitment in such a short space of time, we
believe it sends out all the wrong signals. It reduces the importance of an
institution that should be central to family life."
Gordon McDonald of CARE said: "Although the Executive say the divorce
rate will tail off, we don't think that will be the case.
"If you make it easier to divorce rather than protecting marriage, the
overall effect will be a rise in the number of people seeking divorce.
"People who otherwise may have tried to work through problems will be
encouraged to seek a divorce if the process is made easier."
Ministers believe that cutting the period of separation will deter
couples from seeking "fault" grounds for divorce.
They also hope it will reduce the number of "messy" divorces where
children are caught in the middle.
Unveiling the White Paper, Justice Minister Jim Wallace accepted there
would be an initial jump in the number of divorces if the proposals become
He added: "That will be because some of those who are waiting at
present to meet the separation requirements will do so earlier.
"That initial increase should be followed by a compensating decrease
in the number of divorces over the following few years."
He also told MSPs the Executive plans to increase funding for
counselling and mediation services.
Wallace said he understood there would be concerns about the plans and
he had offered to meet religious groups to explain them.
The White Paper also proposes to toughen up the law dealing with
domestic abuse. A review of stalking and harassment laws will be launched
and proposals from the Parliament's Justice Committee will be discussed.
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