I was a guest on BBC Radio Manchester this morning, discussing the launch of ‘The Marriage Foundation' by Sir Paul Coleridge.
The Foundation is an independent charity intended to champion the institution of marriage as “the gold standard for relationships”. In response to Sir Paul’s assertion that divorce was now simply a “form filling exercise” and that getting a divorce was easier than getting a driving licence, BBC Radio Manchester’s Heather Stott programme asked listeners to call in and say why they had got divorced, and how they felt about it.
As you can imagine, the response from listeners covered a wide variety of opinions, but I can state with confidence that the overwhelming majority of my clients don’t regard divorce as “easy”; in fact I would say that almost every one of them has sat in my office and confided that they are filled with a terrible feeling of failure, because their marriage has failed.
Sir Paul has some very powerful and influential supporters in his drive to “change attitudes [to divorce] across the board from the very top to the very bottom of society”, among them Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the Family Division, and Baroness Deech, a leading family academic and chairman of the Bar Standards Board.
I’m all for keeping marriages going, and couples appreciating that relationships, like all things worth having, can be hard work and those involved should recognise that highs are almost always accompanied by lows. But what if it’s a bad marriage? Sometimes relationships can be destructive and all involved – yes, including the children – are better off when that relationship is ended.
Our job as divorce lawyers is to represent our clients’ interests and find the best possible resolution to what is usually a very difficult situation. Yes, let’s champion marriage and teach people to understand that, to use Sir Paul’s words, it “involves endless hard work, compromises, forgiveness and love,” but at the same time, let’s not vilify those who end theirs.
By Amanda McAlister