I saw this story in the Independent, make divorce tougher on women, says leading lawyer. I was initially surprised to find that it was a woman making the call but it just reminded me that it’s another example that women can be our own worst enemies.
Baroness Deech, the outgoing chair of the Bar Standards Board, told the Financial Times that large divorce settlements are sending out a “bad message to young women”.
She said: “Go to an Islington dinner party… go along to anything you like and say the word divorce and people will tell you the most horrendous stories. People feel it’s terribly unfair and most urgently in need of reform.”
My sarcastic response is to say, stop going to those dinner parties as they don’t sound like they’re any fun. But more seriously, making divorce harder isn’t the solution. The solution would be to improve career options for women (especially those who want a family) so that it makes less financial sense to be a stay-at-home wife/mother while the husband is the sole earner so that they have no assets of their own and the husband has a moral (and legal) duty to ensure that their sacrifice is acknowledged when division of assets occurs during a divorce and improve equality so that women aren’t the default stay-at-home partner when children or other dependants require care.
By all means, make getting married harder but making divorce harder isn’t a solution to anything. It just forces people to stay in loveless marriages or be unable to move on with their lives. My maternal grandparents were both married to previous partners (and separated) before they met. My grandmother was unable to get a divorce and marry my mum’s father until after my mum was not only born, but grown up and married herself, because the law was such that women couldn’t instigate divorce proceedings and her ex wouldn’t do the honourable thing. Eventually the law changed and they were able to marry but I fail to see what good could have come from the law remaining ‘tough’ and her being forced to be legally married to someone she hadn’t spoken to for decades.
According to the article, when discussing a proposed simplification of divorce law,
" . . . pro-marriage organisations fear it could lead to more divorces and end the romantic notion of marriage."
How does allowing people no longer in love to divorce ‘end the romantic notion of marriage’? I keep thinking of parallels with arguments against abortion - just because you make something illegal doesn’t mean people stop doing it, they just stop doing it legally. People who get unwanted pregnancies will end them however they can, and people who no longer want to be together will stop being together. The people fighting to make these things harder aren’t really interested in ‘preserving life’ or ‘preserving love’, they just want to be able to control people’s lives and, it seems, make people miserable.