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International News Archive
February 07 - February 13, 2002

 

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This page contains news for the period February 07 through February 13, 2002.

 

 

<<   February 2002  >>

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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

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Focusing on the needs of UK’s kids

A story published today by the Guardian reports that in Great Britain, 40% of the children of separated parents eventually lose touch with the non-resident parent within two years of separation.

Finding ways to ensure that both mother and father can continue to play a full part in their children's lives after divorce is one of the biggest challenges facing the family justice system. Yet parents get surprisingly little help in coping with the upheaval divorce brings, and the services that do exist are not widely known about.

Sir Nicholas Wall, who chairs a group advising the lord chancellor on the workings of the Children Act, wants to change that. The group's just-published report, Making Contact Work, is the first attempt to look comprehensively at ways of remedying a system which is acknowledged to be failing parents and children.

The act, which came into force just over 10 years ago, was supposed to take the heat out of post-divorce battles by getting rid of the idea of children as prizes to be fought over. "Custody" and "access", with their connotation of winning and losing, were abolished. They were replaced by orders for "residence" and "contact", but judges were told to make no order at all unless it was really necessary. Parents were expected as far as possible to sort out their own arrangements for their children. But it takes more than a change in the law to stop warring spouses from battling on in the embers of their dead relationship. Too often, children become both weapons and prizes.

"The law tries to apply a structure and a rationality which is not always capable of realization because post-separation parenting is a fiendishly difficult activity, particularly if the parent who's left behind or the parent who has the children is then faced with a whole series of decisions - housing, money, finance generally, support. In that context, with all those anxieties and worries, to try rationally to make contact arrangements with the person you probably think has just betrayed you or who has been violent to you is enormously difficult." said Wall

The group began with the aim of finding new ways to enforce contact orders against parents determined to flout them, but quickly realized that they needed to focus on the point when parents first contemplate separation. The system first needs to educate parents and provide a range of services - such as mediation and parenting classes - to help them sort out contact arrangements. Only if those fail should the court need to get involved.

"What we've lit on as our first step is a widespread information campaign to try to inform people about the likely difficulties they're going to face if and when they separate, how their children will be affected by it and what they can do to limit or mitigate the effects of their separation on their children."

The beleaguered new agency Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) would play a key role in providing information and help, and the report recommends a big increase in its budget. Money spent at that stage would produce savings overall, Wall argues, because there would be fewer expensive trips to court.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

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British forty-something women cast caution aside when it comes to sex

A story released today by Ananova.com reports that according to a survey conducted by Dateline and Schering Health Care, British female forty-somethings are quicker to jump into bed with a new partner than women in their twenties.

The survey revealed that 46% of women in their forties have sex with a new partner within five dates, compared with 34% of women in their twenties.

As British women get older, they think less and less about contraception. More than a fifth of women over 40 admit to never thinking about contraception.

But it is at the forefront of the mind of those under 40 with more than 80% considering it, according to the poll.

A quarter of the women surveyed in their forties claimed that they would have a termination if they fell pregnant, but only 7% of those under 40 and 10% of those over 50 said they would definitely opt for a termination.

"These results clearly show that older women, who are re-entering the dating game perhaps after a divorce, separation or bereavement, need to be more aware of all of the contraceptive options available to them." said Dr. Rosemary Leonard.

The survey was conducted from more than 1,000 female members of Dateline online in the UK aged from 20 through to the late 60s.

Monday, February 11, 2002

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Survey reveals divorce gaining acceptance in China

 

A story published today by the China Daily reports that according to a new survey conducted by Beijing-based Horizon Research, more and more Chinese residents have experienced divorce and are becoming more understanding and sympathetic with people who have divorced. The same survey revealed that more and more people regard divorce as a happy event.

The research indicates that nearly 80 percent of respondents believe divorce will become more common in China. Nearly 78 percent believe more and more people will choose to remain single all their lives.

The survey included 2,719 urban residents aged between 18 and 60 living in the six large cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dalian, Chengdu and Xi'an.

The survey suggests that traditional ideas about everlasting and blissful marriage are facing unprecedented challenges and that the concept of marriage is becoming increasingly fragile in modern society.

People have learned to anticipate the uncertainty of marriage, which in turn intensifies such uncertainty.

More than 80 percent of the respondents held that more people will choose cohabitation rather than marriage, while 80 percent of the same respondents held that more and more people will experience extramarital affairs.

More than 82 percent of those surveyed admitted that the quality of the sex life plays an important part when considering the value of their marriages.

Seventy percent also held that the number of "double income, no kids" families will increase and that the number of women who want to be a housewife would decrease.

 

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Social problems linked to single parenthood says British study

A story released today by CNSNews.com reports that a study released by a British think tank found a link between family instability and social problems that probably won't be broken by giving legal rights to cohabiting couples.

Report author Jill Kirby said legislation recently introduced in the U.K. parliament to give legal recognition to unmarried partners would do little to prevent the breakdown of the British family.

Kirby's report, "Broken Hearts: Family Decline and the Consequence for Society," was commissioned by the Center for Policy Studies and examined a wide range of statistics from government sources and charity groups.

The study found correlations between family break-ups and "child homelessness, drug abuse among the young, the physical abuse and neglect of babies and children, high rates of teenage pregnancy and a continuing cycle of broken relationships."

"We can see a sharp rise in children born out of wedlock in the U.K.," said Kirby. "The report also identifies that children born outside of marriage experience the break up of their parents at a much faster rate than those born to married couples."

Last month, Britain's upper legislative chamber debated a bill that would have established "civil partnerships" to give gay and unmarried heterosexual couples the same legal rights as married people.

The legislation will most likely never come to a vote, but some high-ranking members of both the Conservative and Labour parties have expressed support for legal sanctioning of non-marital relationships.

Kirby attacked the proposals, saying they would do nothing to solve deeper social problems. "Marriage is not just a question of a piece of paper, it's a foundation for a more stable relationship," she said. "Children are at risk of greater involvement in crime, greater mental illness and other problems if they are in 'alternative' arrangements."

The report identifies several areas where the British government could promote stable families, and suggests removing disincentives to marriage in the welfare and tax systems and educational programs about the value of matrimony.

Kirby said the British government officials could learn from their American and European counterparts about formulating public policy to promote stable families.

"In the U.K., we are realizing that problems such as crime and social breakdown are rapidly increasing, but we haven't yet got to the part where we realize that family stability is at the heart of it all - there's a reluctance to talk about families in such a way," she said.

"The United States, on the other hand, has confronted the problem and the results are beginning to show," Kirby added. "We've also seen that there are more stable families in Europe, so there may be lessons to be learned there."

Thursday, February 7, 2002

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Ireland’s out of wedlock births on the rise

 

A story published today by the Irish Examiner reports that according to research figures released today by the Economic and Social Research Institute found that one in three children born in 2000 were born outside of marriage.

The same report found that one in eight children under the age of 15 is being raised by a single parent.

However, the study also revealed that the number of children under 15 in single parent families had doubled to 12% since the early 1980s. ESRI researchers found the breakdown of marriages and non-marital births were the main causes of lone parenthood.

"A surge in new family formation has occurred in Ireland since the onset of economic boom in 1994. Between 1994 and 2000, the number of first births increased by 29%. The increase was such that the number of first births in 2000 was the highest on record," the study said.

"Rising birth numbers are largely accounted for by increases in the number of women of child-bearing age." However, the ESRI could not elaborate on the question of why the number of births to women outside marriage was so high.

"Patterns elsewhere, along with limited evidence for Ireland, would suggest that large proportions are in cohabiting unions, that many enter marriage after the birth of the child, and that solo parenthood may be relatively uncommon among them," the study said.

The great majority of lone parents were women and many had a poorer level of education and were less likely to be employed than their married counterparts, it concluded.

 

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