First Step To Reform Antique Divorce Law

Friday 7th February 1936

Comic writer and independent MP, A. P. Herbert, presented a private member's bill to reform Britain's antique and incoherent divorce law. He had previously satirized its effects in a highly successful humorous novel, Holy Deadlock, in which an unhappy couple find themselves imprisoned in their marriage because they had both committed adultery. Under the existing law if the innocent party in a divorce case, were found also to have committed adultery, the divorce could be blocked. In practice  the only grounds available for divorce was adultery, but Herbert proposed to add a number of other grounds notably desertion. The government very tacitly supported Herbert, but a large body of conservative opinion remained opposed to divorce at all and was content that an inefficient and unjust law served as an obstacle. Divorce was still severely frowned upon in the higher reaches of society and divorced people were not received at Court.

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