Changes Likely in the Family Law to Reinstate the Importance of Marriage

The Centre for Social Justice has released an interim report that questions areas such as taboos on divorce, fathers, marriage, and family law. The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has proposed certain changes in the interim report that are likely to have an impact on how people view marriage and cohabitation.

According to Mr. Duncan Smith, the report was “timely” considering Baby P’s death and other scandals of the recent times which highlight the “chaotic nature” of family life in Britain.

The report proposes changes in the family law to prevent children from losing contact from their fathers and grandparents after a divorce. The report links rising rate of family breakdown to a substantial increase in cohabitation rates. It highlights the fact that married couples are far less likely to break-up than people who are living together without getting married.

The review committee questions whether British law should remove the ‘disincentives’ associated with marriage by altering the divorce laws and increasing the importance of pre-nuptial agreements. The advocates of the report suggest using the law to discourage cohabitation arrangements and adopt measures to make marriage an attractive option and divorce more difficult.

Mr. Smith said that “25% of children in this country live in single parent families and this trend is set to accelerate. These children are three to six times more likely to experience abuse.”

The aim of the review is to find laws that can support and encourage pro-social norms which are facing a danger of being washed away. The review also aims to recognise the importance of long-term steady relationships and pro-social institutions for connection, identity, and belonging.

The report suggests that certain measures need to be adopted such as establishment of Family Relationship Centres, which recommend early intervention strategies to help the separating parents.

The final report will be released in spring 2009. The recommendations will most likely be adopted by the Conservative Party.

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