IT now seems certain that within 18 months divorce in Britain will be obtainable on proof of "irretrievable breakdown" in a marriage.
Some irresponsible propaganda has implied that the new Divorce Bill counts among its merits the preclusion of collusive petitions based on the "hotel bill" type of evidence which do not show any real pattern, or "circumstantiality" of marital breakdown. Mr. Justice Karminsky, however, in an important judgment, long ago stated that such evidence was insufficient as proof that a marriage had really failed.
The fear inspired by the Bill when it was first introduced still remains, namely that many wives with families to support, or women in middle age and with financial problems whose marriages have failed through no fault of their own, will be divorced without their consent.
Many marriages, moreover, that had seemed on the point of "irretrievable breakdown" have been saved by the very absence of such legislation as is now being proposed.
Another disquieting feature was the way in which opposition to the Bill, which seemed so strong as first, faded away as the long night of debate at the end of last week wore on into the following morning and afternoon.
It was, in the end, a determined minority who were allowed, virtually by default, to force into the ground the seeds of what could be a minor social revolution. The final vote of 109 to 55 in favour of a third reading left a disturbing number of M.P.s, particularly potential opponents of the Bill, conspicuously absent.
Though the Catholic Church teaches, as God's law, that remarriage is forbidden while the other partner is still alive, it recognises not only the greater understanding and cornpassion that modern stresses demand for individual cases. of matrimonial tragedy, but also that a legal remedy is often justifiable for reasons of finance or security.
The present Bill, however, is retrogressive by any standards, not least those of British law and tradition. It weakens the marriage bond without offering proportionate help to those who are most deserving, and gives those who have most to lose cause for further alarm.
Their man in Paris
GEORGES POMPIDOU, whose name in the dialect of his native Auvergne means = "sprite moving like the wind," has always t been a man to do his "homework" in secret. 7 When passing out top from the most illustrious of France's Grandes Ecoles, one of the : examining body told him the place had been Z accorded to him only with great reluctance as t he had done far less work than the others.
Last Sunday's verdict had about it a similar a hestitation on the part of the electorate, and a to this day most of Pompidou's assets are Z hidden ones. He will need to move like the wind if he is to anticipate another Communist: inspired large scale strike. The last one took = him completely unawares, and the amount of 7 people abstaining from the second round of = the Presidential election, was almost exactly = the same as that of last year's total of strikers.
The new President, a great adapter and = master synthesist, will have to honour his
promise of a true sounding of left and right, = to make "Pompidolism" a principled as well = at a tactical triumph. He will have his home.
= work cut out as never before.