Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 11:35 UK

Divorce 'cool-off' period urged

Couple with thier backs turned
Mr Duncan Smith said expectations of marriage went "beyond actually what it will deliver"

Couples should have a compulsory three-month "cooling off" period before they can start divorce proceedings, a Conservative think tank will recommend.

A report commissioned by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith will also propose a network of family relationship centres to advise before and during marriage.

Mr Duncan Smith said research suggested young people had "incredibly high expectations" of marriage.

He added that the idea of compromise by couples "seems to have disappeared".


The report - titled Every Family Matters - urges that estranged husbands and wives should be required by law to undergo a three-month period before launching divorce proceedings to reflect on their marriage and examine the possibility of reconciliation.

It suggests a range of measures to reform family law and "save saveable marriages", including tax breaks to promote marriage and reversing Labour proposals to offer rights to unmarried cohabiting couples.

Additionally, the document, which is released on Monday, calls on the government to follow the example of an Australian programme which sends couples to relationship counselling centres.

Would-be married couples should receive "strong encouragement" to attend classes, it adds, stopping short of calling for such courses to be compulsory.

You do not need a £20,000 themed wedding to be a happily-married couple
Ian Duncan Smith

Mr Duncan Smith told the BBC that compared to their grandparents, young people had "very high" expectations of marriage "far beyond actually what it will deliver".

He added: "It's ironic really, given the nature of family breakdown around them, they have this incredibly high expectation of it.

"And so the idea of compromise from day one, two living as cheaply as one, seems to have disappeared.

"You do not need a £20,000 themed wedding to be a happily-married couple."

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