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Can the law save saveable marriages?: lessons for the government in the wake of the family law act 1996

Ewing, Jan (2004) Can the law save saveable marriages?: lessons for the government in the wake of the family law act 1996. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The Family Law Act 1996 (the FLA) received Royal Assent on 4th July 1996. The FLA was to introduce compulsory information meetings(^1) offer a meeting with a marriage counsellor(^2) (free if eligible for non-contributory legal aid) and extend legal aid (where entitled) to fund marriage counselling.(^3) A minimum 12-month period for reflection and consideration" would replace the current fault/consent based divorce procedure and before granting the divorce future arrangements needed to be finalised.(^5)The information meetings were extensively piloted and the Final Evaluation Report presented in September 2000. The Lord Chancellor's Department issued a Press Release on 16 January 2001 indicating the Government's intention to repeal Part II of the FLA, stressing the Government’s commitment to supporting marriage and families, especially those with children, but concluding that this and other research in the field, had shown that Part II of the FLA "is not the best way of achieving those aims.” In the light of this decision, this research will examine whether the Government's aim of saving what it terms "saveable marriages" is achievable through legislation. Having considered briefly the historical development of the "saving saveable marriages" rhetoric and the perceived failings in the current and proposed law, whether the Government ought to be Intervening in an otherwise quintessentially private arena will be examined. Arguing that a paternalistic approach is defensible given the economic and social costs to the community and the risks to the vulnerable, particularly children, when relationships fail, whether the aim is achievable within divorce legislation or by other legislative means will be addressed. Concluding that the degree of behavioural modification achievable through legislative change Is minimal, the research will consider what measures might achieve the Government's aim of saving "saveable marriages."

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Jurisprudence
Thesis Date:2004
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 10:00

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