Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Divorce App: A good idea or inAPPropriate?

Is mobile technology bringing people together or driving them apart?

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There is no doubt that technology strongly influences the way we live our lives and finding love is no exception. Ten years ago, if you said you met your other half online, you may have raised a few eyebrows.  Today, online dating is not only socially acceptable but a multi-million pound industry with companies such as eHarmony and competing for the best relationship and marriage statistics.  The internet, followed by the explosion in mobile technology, has made it easier to meet people than ever before.  And that is not the only area of our lives that has benefited from the mobile revolution.  You can now go shopping from your mobile to find the perfect first date outfit or search to find the most romantic restaurants and how to get there.  When it comes to finding love we now have access to all the information we could possibly need simply by reaching inside our pockets.

What about the end of a relationship? Can technology help to make a break up that much easier?  Should it?  The government has recently launched an app called “Sorting out Separation” to help people who are facing a divorce or the breakdown in a relationship. This may seem long overdue in the age of having an app for everything but it has come under criticism from those who are concerned that making divorce too easy could devalue marriage.

The app itself offers some basic advice on how to avoid conflict and provides a database of useful resources which the separating person might find useful with an emphasis on protecting children.  It covers everything from counseling to child maintenance and everything in between.  Many of the topics covered would often be raised in a first meeting with a solicitor.  Previous generations in a similar situation would have picked up the phone having no option but to consult a solicitor for clear guidance.  The next generation will have grown up in a world of WiFi, smart phones and super fast internet speeds with a universe of apps putting vast amounts of information at their fingertips.  Combine this with the upcoming cuts in legal aid and it is difficult to imagine that this app will not be well used by those trying to navigate the many legal and emotional issues they are suddenly faced with when a relationship ends.

But does making the process of divorce easier devalue the institution of marriage?  The app is not providing anything dramatically new, just presenting information that is already on the internet it in a new accessible format. What do you think?

Vote in the poll!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

UPDATE: Gay Marriage – Government Announces Changes

The Government has this week announced its plans in relation to gay marriage, which is to become legal for most religious organisations should they decide to opt into the legislation. I considered some of the issues that gay marriage raised for practitioners shortly after the government’s consultation on this subject ended in June 2012. The culture secretary Maria Miller, who announced the plans on Tuesday, detailed what she described as a “quadruple lock” to allow same sex couples to marry but also to protect those institutions and individuals that do not want to participate in performing same sex marriages from the threat of litigation on the grounds of discrimination. The legislation is designed to recognise equality whilst protecting religious freedoms. The biggest objections to the announcement have come from those institutions that are to be explicitly excluded, the Church of England and the Church of Wales, where it will remain illegal for same sex couples to marry. They are claiming that Ms Miller’s announcement was a surprise as they were not consulted on their exclusion and there may be discussion of an amendment. After the summer debates in which the Church of England claimed gay marriage was “the greatest threat to the Church of England in 500 years” it is be difficult to comprehend them now campaigning to be included in the opt in legislation. Perhaps their real objections lie in the fact that they were not given the final word in how they are treated in the legislation or that they are being singled out in a very public way as being opposed to this progressive, and for many much welcomed, change to the law.