Six days left to respond to Family Law Consultation
Making divorce easier, the status of cohabitation and rights for unmarried father were among the issues raised discussed during a Family Law debate in the Scottish Parliament last week.
A consultation paper on proposed government changes in this area was issued sometime ago and responses are sought by 28 June 2004.
At present a divorce can be obtained after five years separation in a contested divorce and two years in an uncontested case. These times will be reduced to two years and one year respectively. The justification is that this more accurately reflects modern circumstances and it received little dissent among politicians. If politicians accept that divorce is a bad thing and the government should try and reverse the trend then the argument for making divorce easier loses much of its force.
Calls for more rights for cohabiting couples also threatens to weaken the importance of marriage. Brian Adams, MSP asked a question which must be on the mind of many observers when he tried to elicit the Executive s views on the difference it sees in the relationships of marriage, cohabitation and civil partnerships, if they are to be treated the same. Calls from some politicians that cohabiting couples need rights because many think they have them is surely an argument for promoting the option of marriage to such couples rather than granting cohabitation a similar status to marriage with the same legal rights.
There is a sense that much of our current legal changes in relation to marriage will, intentionally or otherwise, gradually dismantle the special status and corresponding rights which marriage. Responses to the consultation paper are therefore vital. The majority who are married or hope to marry one day need to make use of the chance to make their opinions known. Online responses can be made at www.scotland.gov.uk/library4/JD/CL/00019211.aspx
The vital stability that marriage has given to society for centuries is lost on many of the campaigners in this area. This is not surprising in light of the strength of the media and social elites who often want to justify their own lifestyles; and the social commentators who have rewritten history in treating the family as some constantly evolving social construct rather than a natural unit of society built on the reality of human nature.
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