Anger as Coalition releases an app to make divorce easier as crisis over family break-up growsThe online advice package will tell parents how to get
legal and financial advice and how to break the news to childrenIt tells parents that ‘it’s not the
separation itself that can cause harm to your child, it’s the level of
conflict that they see between parents’
00:00 GMT, 29 November 2012
Ministers responded to the growing crisis over family break-up yesterday … by releasing a mobile phone app to ease the path for couples wanting to separate.
There was an angry reaction to the launch of the online advice package, which will tell parents how to get legal and financial advice, and how to break the news to children.
It tells parents that ‘it’s not the separation itself that can cause harm to your child, it’s the level of conflict that they see between parents’.
Anger: Ministers responded to the growing crisis over family break-up yesterday … by releasing a mobile phone app to ease the path for couples wanting to separate. This picture is posed by models
The initiative came as senior Tories piled pressure on David Cameron to make good as early as next week his long-standing pledge to shore up marriage with a tax break for husbands and wives.
Former children’s minister Tim Loughton said next week’s Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne is ‘absolutely the last opportunity’ for the Government to show it regards marriage as important and that it means to stand by its promise.
Treasury Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said: ‘We are committed to finding ways to support marriage in the tax and benefits system.’
The decision to produce the ‘Sorting out Separation’ app appeared to send the Coalition’s policy in a different direction.
Launched by LibDem Pensions Minister Steve Webb, it followed evidence published by the Government which said parental break-up can blight their children’s lives into old age.
Mr Webb said: ‘It is vital that we help parents to access better advice.
‘Parents working together is in the best interests of the children, and more collaboration helps minimise the impact of separation on them.
Controversial: The app was launched by LibDem Pensions Minister Steve Webb, right. Senior Tories including Tim Loughton, left, want marriage shored up with a tax break for husbands and wives
‘Parents tell us they don’t know where to turn for support when they are going through a separation.’
The app brought fierce criticism from supporters of marriage who said ministers should be trying to keep couples together and altering the benefits system so state handouts no longer encourage couples to live apart.
It also appeared to run counter to the thinking of Mr Webb’s departmental chief, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, founder of a think-tank which has been one of the strongest campaigners for a marriage tax break.
The app says parents should not argue in front of the children and both should be together when they tell the children they are not going to live together any more.
Parents should ‘co-parent together and create the best possible future for your child’, it says.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘Family breakdown does not affect all types of relationship equally.
‘Children born to cohabiting parents are far more likely to experience the separation of their parents than those born to married parents, and with almost half of births now taking place outside marriage, rates of family breakdown look set to remain high.
'The last thing the Government should be doing is making it easier for couples to separate.’