Leading judge to lead campaign against "scourge of divorce"Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
One of Britain's most senior judges is to launch a public campaign this week to defend marriage and protect children against the, "destructive scourge," of divorce and family breakdown, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Sir Paul Coleridge is to establish an independent charity, the Marriage Foundation, to promote the institution of marriage as the, "gold standard for relationships.”
In Britain, the divorce rate is between 40 and 50 per cent.
Senior judges usually do not speak out on such issues but Sir Paul, who sits in the Family Division of the British High Court, has frequently questioned Britain's high level of marital breakdown. Last year, he spoke out about the need for people to re-educate themselves about the value of stable relationships for the good of society and suggested that getting a divorce was easier than getting a driving licence.
His Foundation will devise policies and practical support to help reverse the trend towards family break up.
The judge estimated that divorce meant about 3.8 million children were caught up in the family justice system each year. He said that the ease of divorce rules had led to instability of family life, which had damaging consequences for children, parents and society.
The Government estimates that marriage rates have more than halved in the past 40 years and the number of lone-parent households has increased by an average of 26,000 a year from the early 1980s to 2010.
Sir Paul said, "Marriage and family breakdown is one of the most destructive scourges of our time. For that reason, I have, for some years now, been trying to raise the subject whenever I have had the chance to speak publicly on the matter. I am now convinced that it is time not only to talk but to act."
Sir Paul said he wants the campaign to be, "the start of a national movement with the aim of changing attitudes across the board from the very top to the bottom of society, and thus improve the lives of us all, especially children." Sir Paul will be backed by the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Other supporters include senior lawyers such as Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the Family Division; Baroness Deech, a leading family academic and 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.
Coalition ministers including Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, have suggested that the Government should do more to prevent family breakdown. Earlier this year, Mr Duncan Smith said that it was better for children to be raised by two parents, and it was best of all when those parents were married.
The Government is concerned by the long-term trend away from marriage and the increase in the number of single-parent households, a Whitehall paper said in March. Sir Paul said that he was acting because waiting for the Government to take action is, "merely an excuse for moaning and inactivity.”
by Tom O'Gorman