Top divorce solicitor is urging schools to teach marriage

Top Solicitor Baroness Fiona Shackleton is urging schools to teach the importance of marriage [Photo: Getty]

In 2016, more than 105,000 opposite-sex couples divorced, these most-recent stats from the Office for National Statistics show a 5.8 per cent rise compared to the previous year. With more people untying the knot, one top divorce solicitor is urging schools to teach about marriage in their curriculum.

Baroness Fiona Shackleton of Belgravia is one of the UK’s most famous divorce lawyers – and she wants schools to teach students to view marriage as one of the most important decisions they make.

“It’s not just about the heart,” Shackleton told The Times. “It’s a practical arrangement… which has to survive to rear children.”

The lawyer has represented both Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney, while also acting as solicitor to Prince William and Prince Harry. She claims while separation for any reason is sad, those who suffer the greatest loss are the affected children.

It’s the children who are the very sad losers when parents are selfish and decide their own desires override those of their family,” said Baroness Shackleton. 

Currently in England and Wales, if a married couple choose to divorce they must prove their marriage has broken down beyond repair. This can only be proven by citing one of the following grounds: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion and living apart. If the couple is living apart and both parties want to divorce, they must live separately for two years. If the divorce is one-sided, then the couple must live apart for five years before being granted a divorce.

Practicing for more than 40 years, Baroness Shackleton has admitted the current divorce law is outdated, saying it forces couples to ‘exaggerate’ or ‘agree’ before being permitted to divorce. Speaking with BBC Radio 4, the lawyer said change needs to happen when it comes to educating couples before marriage – rather than making divorce easier to achieve.

“It is no good just changing divorce laws to dissolve the marriage,” she said. 

Also calling for a reform to laws regarding organising finances during a separation, she is supporting a bill by Baroness Deech that will replace the current financial system in divorce cases.

Research from the University of Exeter lists ten critical questions that determine whether a relationship will last. The study, sponsored by Baroness Shackleton, found that longterm relationships were built on friendship, respect, realistic expectations, similar interests and humour.

When it comes to educating students about marriage, she believes this research could support students in better understanding the gravity of marriage. The lawyer doesn’t believe the introduction would require a major overhaul.

“Just a little time to get students to focus on what is the most important decision they make, which is basically who they breed with.”

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