All efforts should be made to keep Barbadian families intact, and Government sees nothing wrong with the state intervening to help through legislative means.
Speaking while leading off debate in the Senate on amendments to the Family Law Act, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harry Husbands said this was a major reason why these laws were being “modernised”.
This included a provision that couples had to seek counselling from a “qualified” professional before they were able to divorce under the law.
“In a society that prides itself on holding … family units together I think every effort should be made … and these efforts ought to be in good faith, to hold family units together, even if it means, as in this case, through legislative action,” he said.
“There is a general view that a divorce is so easy to get … that sometimes the only incentive for people to remain together may be financial, the only incentive for people to remain together sometimes may be children and in the absence of these then one may conclude, based on their own experience, that divorce today is too readily available.”
Husbands said the amendments ought to be seen in the context of bringing a matter that has been discussed, debated, and legislation drafted in the society for quite some time, bringing it to finality”.
“These amendments I am convinced will modernise our legislation and eliminate several of the loopholes and challenges which currently confront the court and people approaching the courts on matters of divorce, separation and the distribution of property,” he stated.
With an increased focus on marriage counselling within the amendments, the Government spokesman said it was important for people offering such services to be qualified.
“While on the one hand this society is one that is averse to counselling and psychology and discussing matters and so on, seeking advice and so on and so forth, at the same time we have to begin to accept that people who offer their service in this realm in the area of counselling and advising people on personal emotional matters, ought to … be qualified in the specific area, qualified to offer that service,” he said.
Husbands also dismissed suggestions that because it was a difficult economic time Government’s legislative agenda should be predominantly economic in nature.
“Fortunately, this Government holds a much broader view… These amendments are part of a larger scheme of amendments and pieces of legislation that have come before this Honourable House, matters dealing with safety and health at work, matters dealing with employment rights, and related legislation…,” he said.
“It is necessary, while dealing with issues of the economy and the economic situation, to pay specific and special attention to other areas of our society of equal or greater importance. So these amendments … come principally in that context, that we have to have a holistic view of the society and what we need to do.” (SC)