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Society – Online divorce

February 2017

Campaigners are calling for online divorces to be allowed in the UK, to make it easier to break up. This is despite figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which has revealed 51.1 per cent of parents breaking up in 2016 were unmarried cohabitees.

The Daily Mail reported figures showing that, for the first time, break-ups involving cohabiting parents have overtaken break-ups involving married parents.

The ONS figures showed that, though nearly four times as many parents with children are married rather than cohabiting, 51.5 per cent of those who broke-up last year were cohabitees. This compares with 2006, when 45.3 per cent of family breakdowns were cohabiting couples.

Christian Concern’s communications officer Camilla Olim expressed concern over calls for ‘online divorces’, claiming it could lead to no-fault divorces which would be the ‘last nail in the coffin’ for marriage.

Under current law, couples have to state that a marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’ when filing for divorce. They can only do so if one of the following is established: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation.

Ms Olim said: ‘Couples will often cite “unreasonable behaviour” as the closest thing to “no-fault” divorce, as the behaviours considered “unreasonable” can be extremely trivial.

‘But if so many couples believe their marriage has broken down irretrievably with no fault on either side, then the question has to be asked if it has really, truly broken down with no hope of repair’.

She added: ‘It is truly sad to think that many couples still vow to stay together “until death do us part” as they tie the knot, yet divorce violates those vows. But to be able to exit a marriage on the internet; to be able to exit a marriage despite no alleged fault on either side, would send a clear message that as a society, we no longer value marriage — and, by extension, the family’.

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