A RE the High Courts of -L—A Justice becoming a Reno in the Strand, dispensing decrees of divorce like life policies from an airport slot machine? Is cruelty, one of the principal grounds of divorce. "the happy hunting ground of the unscrupulous solicitor and petitioner"?
These are a few of the points raised in a hard-hitting article in the September issue of the Redemptorist magazine, Novena. The writer, freelance journalist John Mack, who has studied law, argues that perjury is rife in divorce cass, particularly on the part of women.
Divorce, which is had enough by itself, he argues, is being made easier by corruption which has crept into the courts. "BIataro penury by litigants and sharp practices of their advisers are undermining not merely marriage but truth itself".
Whereas the other Iwo principal grounds of divorce, adultery and desertion, are compartively clearcut, cruelty is often bolstered by perjury. Women are in particular prone to this. "Because of the peculiarly chivalrous outlook of so many judges. an allegation of cruelty is almost a certain way ont for a wife, though not for a husband."
The article points out that cruelty does not mean in the court what it means in everyday life. Frivolous grounds such as an outburst of temper without even a blow being struck, frightening the wife by driving a car while drunk and even "zealous adherence to outmoded standards of rectitude" have formed the basis of successful cruelty petitions.
The article urges that Parliament should legally define what constitutes cruelty, preferably along the lines of Canon Law which Uses the term screvitia, meaning ferocity or savagery. instead of merely unavoidable differences of temperament and character.