Alternatives to Divorce

Aug 24, 2015 by

The Ashley-Madison hackings are about to unleash a tsunami of unhappiness in a million homes throughout the UK, affecting the lives of two million adults and probably as many children again, assuming that each family has an average of 2 children. Were this an outbreak of flu it would be scaled as an epidemic with emergency measures put in place. We live in a society of “one-strike and you are out”.  Already the papers report that some divorce proceedings have been initiated. The response of some media commentators has been to make light of the issue. For example: “Perhaps the Ashley-Madison hack contains a lesson about openness and acceptance.” (Katie Glass Sunday Tines August 23).  My Week in the Saturday Times has a fictional wife looking out of a window and saying: ““There’s a traffic warden out there, weeping. There’s a lot of screaming and shouting. Two policemen are having a fight. And there are big piles of burning shirts all over the street and fluttering down from every window.” Even the founder, writes Janice Turner( Times August 22) “admits that most of his male users do nothing”.  She concludes: “marriage is long and precious, rarely worth risking for a hotel room fumble or ditching over the online profile”, but offers no remedy. As Christians we can put out the good news that adultery (or wished-for adultery) need not be the end of a marriage since our faith is about repentance, forgiveness and restoration. Marriage commitment is “till death us do part”. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more”. Paul the apostle wrote: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” (I Timothy 1.15) The following is background information and has the links to Resistance & Renewal blogposts relating to Global Personals and how the campaign started resisting Ashley Madison and similar websites encouraging similar behaviour. From AM (Anglican...

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Why there’s no such thing as gay adultery in UK law

Aug 1, 2015 by

By Jennifer Tracey and Rebecca Smith, BBC: A woman who was unable to divorce her husband on the grounds of adultery because he had affairs with men wants the law changed. Anna and her husband were married for 20 years before she discovered he was having 10 different sexual relationships with men. He denied everything, but the pictures and jokes she found on his phone left her in no doubt about what was going on. When she contacted a lawyer to obtain a divorce, she assumed there would be two grounds open to her – adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Instead, she was surprised to find adultery was not an option. This was because her husband had sex with other men and not with a woman. In the UK, adultery can only occur between members of the opposite sex and must involve vaginal intercourse. She opted to divorce him on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour and it made no difference to the financial settlement. But she says she is among a minority of people in her situation who “care hugely about the betrayal and want to know that somebody somewhere has recognised that”. She is part of a support group with other spouses in a similar position. Read...

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Further evidence for the link between family breakdown and economic inequality

Jun 2, 2015 by

by Peter Franklin, Conservative Home: Compared to most other western countries, America has high levels of income inequality and low levels of social mobility. It is often assumed that the former is responsible for the latter – because, like the rungs on a ladder, the wider the gap between different parts of the income spectrum, the harder it is to climb. But according to a brilliant article by Aparna Mathur on the Brookings website, growing inequality hasnot resulted in lower social mobility: “Over the past 35 years, after-tax real incomes for the top 1 percent have grown by 200 percent, but real incomes for the bottom quintile have only grown by 48 percent. “But despite this rise in income inequality, economic mobility in the U.S. has remained largely unchanged, according to a new study which measures mobility as the likelihood of a child in the bottom quintile rising to the top quintile in adulthood.” So is theory wrong? Does a growing gap between the rungs of the income ladder actually make no difference? Not necessarily. If the stretching out of the rungs is only happening at the very top (i.e. if the gains of the super-rich account for most of the rise in inequality), then the rest of the ladder would stay much the same and thus we’d expect little effect on social mobility. Mathur tries another test to investigate the degree of correlation between income inequality and social mobility: “Drawing on data from another recent study by Raj Chetty and his colleagues at Harvard, I plot below the relationship between inequality (income share of the top 1 percent) and a measure of absolute economic mobility for hundreds of metro regions across the country. The correlation between mobility and upper-tail inequality is negative, but very weak.” This doesn’t mean that we should be relaxed about this kind of inequality – not if it results in most people being excluded from the benefits of growth (see the ConservativeHome manifesto for more). However, on the specific issue of social mobility, an exclusive focus on income inequality is not justified. Indeed, the danger is that other important factors are being ignored – not least, family structure: Read here...

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Cardinal Nichols’ criticism of faithful priests is deeply disturbing

Mar 26, 2015 by

By John Smeaton, SPUC: I am deeply disturbed by Cardinal Nichols’ criticism of the 461 brave priests who signed a letter upholding the unchangeable teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage and Holy Communion. In the letter, which was published in the Catholic Heraldyesterday, priests from all over England and Wales pledged to remain faithful to Catholic teaching and to offer true pastoral care to all those who find themselves in difficult situations. A statement made by Cardinal Nichols spokesman said: “Every priest in England and Wales has been asked to reflect on the Synod discussion. It is my understanding that this has been taken up in every diocese, and that channels of communication have been established.” It continued: “The pastoral experience and concern of all priests in these matters are of great importance and are welcomed by the Bishops. Pope Francis has asked for a period of spiritual discernment. This dialogue, between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.” I find this statement astonishing for a number of reasons. Read here  ...

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Losing track of marriage and divorce

Feb 6, 2015 by

By Carolyn Moynihan, MercatorNet: The US Census Bureau may drop key questions from its community survey. Experts object. Does divorce matter? Ask the children whose loyalties and affections are torn when parents go their separate ways. Ask the woman who struggles to maintain her standard of living on a reduced income. Ask the man who has to support two households out of his income. Ask the government departments that provide social assistance to broken families. And while you are at it, ask urban planners who need to ensure there will be housing for the percentage of families that are likely to divide in two. These are by no means all the repercussions of divorce but they are serious enough to illustrate why demographers, sociologists and economists, among others, are keenly interested in the matter. They also suggest why researchers across the political spectrum in the United States were stunned when the Census Bureau late last year proposed dropping several marriage and divorce-related questions from the American Community Survey (ACS). Asking people whether they were married, widowed or divorced in the previous 12 months, or how many times they had been married and in what year they were last married, was an exercise of “low benefit” to other government agencies, the bureau reported. ACS office chief Jim Treat also said there was some resistance to marriage questions as something the federal government had no business asking. Are these officials right? Does it matter if we don’t know the marriage patterns behind social trends like the wealth gap, educational failure, growth of welfare spending, crime and imprisonment rates among racial and minority groups, obesity, depression, unemployment…? And should those individuals who object to marriage questions determine federal policy? Experts and scholars of widely differing views on marriage and family have made their views clear. “What happens in the family does not stay in the family,” said sociologist Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and also of the Home Economics Project at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “It reverberates and ripples across the entire society in economic, social and cultural ways that are important to track,” he told CNN Money. Read here...

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Four million children miss out on Christmas with both parents

Dec 19, 2014 by

By Harry Benson, The Marriage Foundation: I don’t remember my first few Christmases as a child. In any case I only had three of them before my mum and dad decided to call it a day. The first Christmas that I remember vividly was when I was about eleven. By then, my mother had remarried a lovely man who has been a brilliant stepfather ever since. But a ‘father figure’ – however wonderful he might be – is not the same as having a ‘father’ around. My most emotive childhood memories involve the few times a year that I saw my real father. Think what could have been if we’d all been one happy family. It wasn’t to be. As an adult, my biggest issues have concerned my father and how that has in turn affected my own marriage and fatherhood. That’s a story for another day. Suffice to say that I missed out. For that first Christmas in 1964 that I spent with just mum and my brother, family breakdown was still something of a rarity. In that year, there were some 25,000 divorces affecting 50,000 children. According to an analysis I’ve just done of data from the 1961 Census a few years earlier – some 8.8% of children lived with lone parents at the time. Add on a bit for step-families – for which there’s no data – and we’re talking about one in ten children like me facing Christmas with just one parent. Now fast forward to 2011 – because that’s when the most recent Census was conducted – and family breakdown had become something of an epidemic. In 2011, there were 57,000 divorces affecting 100,000 children in England and Wales. But that’s just the couples who were married. According to research I did a year ago, you can double these numbers for cohabiting parents. That makes four times as many children under sixteen experiencing family breakdown today compared to when I was a child. My latest analysis of data from the 2011 Census – today’s Times here and full briefing note here – shows that there are now 4.2 million children not living with both parents. One in three children today won’t spend Christmas with both parents. Read...

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