Today saw The Marriage Foundation’s conference take place in London, entitled “For the sake of the kids – relationships education: the problem, policy and practice.” The Marriage Foundation states that children are the biggest casualties of family breakdown. The conference guide says that “Relationships education is one of the key tools for combating it. The purpose of this conference is to substantively raise the whole profile of relationships education and examine the need for its provision.”
Speakers included Iain Duncan Smith and Sir Paul Coleridge, founder of the Marriage Foundation and High Court Judge in the Family Division.
In a lead up to the conference, an article in the Times today quoted Sir Paul as commenting on the marriage breakdown between Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, which is still making headline news this week due to the ongoing fraud case with their personal assistants. The Times reports that Sir Paul commented that “No-one can fail to have been moved last week by hearing Mr Charles Saatchi in a public court bemoaning the break-up of his marriage to Nigella Lawson…. that he did not want things to end up this way, and that he still adored his wife.”
His speech for the conference today is said to reflect on the fact that marriage breakdown does not happen overnight, and that he hopes “they thought seriously about getting help but if they did, they would be in the minority.”
There are still widespread misgivings about relationship counselling, which aims to help save a struggling relationship. The Marriage Foundation is promoting relationship education; to teach couples how to avoid potential problems in the first place. The Times report states that Sir Paul will say at the conference that “It is about equipping people by giving them the tools to cope with and manage the eternally difficult subject of living with your partner in a monogamous long-term relationship.”
The conference is also covered in the Telegraph, which states that Sir Paul comments that it is the children who are worst affected. “There are millions of them and it is they who are the real victims and casualties… the children are given no choice, are never consulted and only rarely considered before it and its effects are dumped into their young lives, slowly to release their legacy over the whole course of their upbringing and way beyond into their adult lives.”
When a relationship does break down there are several ways in which the separation and related issues can be resolved which aim to minimise conflict and respect the needs of the children. At BLB Solicitors our Family Lawyers are all members of Resolution, and are committed to resolving disputes in a constructive manner. We are also able to offer mediation and have two trained collaborative lawyers, Angeli Dunkerley and Jo Morris. Please see our posts on Dispute Resolution.
Image by Michael 1952 under a creative commons licence