High court judge Sir Paul Coleridge has recently announced that he is launching a Marriage Foundation to try to halt the alarming rise in the number of divorce cases. The marriage Foundation will cost around £150,000 per year and will undertake research into reducing divorce rates, arranging seminars and lobbying the government to create more family-friendly policies.
According to divorce solicitors in Leeds, we are currently in what is traditionally known as the busiest time of year for divorce petitions, with many relationships breaking down after the Christmas holidays. Sir Paul is hoping to encourage couples not to have children if their relationship is unstable and for those in stable relationships to get married before having children. He believes that marriage is the very best environment in which to raise children and marriage should be supported.
Sadly many people believe that their partner should be perfect; both emotionally and physically but unfortunately this is simply an unachievable myth. “We have to rid ourselves of this notion that we are going to find a partner who is perfect in every way: emotionally, physically, intellectually – it’s just a nonsense. Marriage, as the structure in which to raise children, needs to be affirmed, strengthened and supported. Recycle your rubbish by all means, but be very slow to recycle your partner,” said Sir Paul.
“Family breakdown is the scourge of society,” he added. “If affects everyone from the Royal Family downwards. In about 1950 you weren’t allowed in the Royal enclosure at Ascot [if divorced]. That would now exclude half the Royal Family.”
“It is a myth that children, even older ones, don’t care. They care greatly and a break-up shocks the whole foundation of the family; it never recovers.”
“My message is mend it – don’t end it. Over 40 years of working in the family justice system, I have seen the fall-out of these broken relationships. There are an estimated 3.8 million children currently caught up in the family justice system. I personally think that’s a complete scandal.”
Sir Paul is very keen to stress that he wants to avoid a moral crusade: “This is not just a cosy club for people who are happily married and can say ‘look how well I’ve done’. It will, I hope appeal to people of every class, creed and ethnic background – including those who are divorced.”
Sir Paul’s Marriage foundation has received backing from Baroness Butler Sloss, former President of the Family Division; Baroness Deech, a leading family academic and currently chairman of the Bar Standards Board; and Baroness Shackleton, a leading family lawyer whose divorce clients have included the Prince of Wales and Sir Paul McCartney.
Anastasia de Waal, director of family and education at think-tank Civitas, has doubts over the intervention by a leading judge. She said: “It is very important where you’ve got a judge who is making decisions about families that they are not clouded by a particular view but are looking at what is going to serve the family.”
We’re sure that family solicitors in Leeds will be very interested to see how successful Sir Paul’s Marriage Foundation proves to be and we’ll keep you posted on its progress.