Could a modern redefinition of marriage be the key to divorce reform?

12 February 2013

Marriage has been at the top of the news agenda these past few weeks.  Are the headlines surrounding the House of Commons vote on gay marriage and the report from the Marriage Foundation – What is the Divorce Rate? making us look at what marriage now means?

The Marriage Foundation report says that the divorce rate after 10 years of marriage has remained unchanged since the 1960’s.  Part of that may be that there are fewer divorces because fewer of us are choosing to marry.  The report also found that within the first decade of marriage, the highest number of divorces occur between 3 and 6 years of marriage and that the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce thereafter decreases with each year.

At the heart of marriage lies commitment but even in our society, it is only relatively recently that women have been afforded the opportunity of choosing a husband on equal terms.  The Marriage Foundation is holding a daylong conference, this coming Friday 15 February to discuss the whole concept of marriage and presumably there must be a good argument that it is time for an update of its nature and status. 

Our divorce law, on the other hand, has long been in need of reform so as to do away with any requirement that one party has to prove fault against the other, in the form of adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.  With a fresh look at the sort of commitment necessary to found a marriage might also come a more dignified means of achieving agreement if it ends instead of playing the blame game.

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