Marriage tax break might cause parents to resist divorce

By Lenore Rice

In April next year married couples will be able to benefit from a £1,000 tax break, but the policy has come under criticism from a number of quarters, and Labour say they will scrap the 'marriage tax break' if they get voted into government.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman says that government ministers are perhaps not the best people to bestow the virtues of a nuclear family when so many of them are themselves divorced. David Cameron has personally backed the marriage tax break, but Ms Harman says that the tax break ignores that the modern family comes "in all shapes and sizes", and the government should support "all families - especially with children". She says the tax break won't mend a relationship that is "breaking" or cut the divorce rate, but others have criticised the policy, saying that some couples who have no will or intention to stay together might continue to do so just to avoid losing out on the tax break.

Divorce is often said to be hardest on the children of the family involved, but some critics of the marriage tax break say that children forced to live in a household where the parents are constantly fighting and at each other's throats can be every bit as damaging, if not more, than a divorce or separation. They are concerned that parents who would probably be better making the difficult choice to divorce may feel that it is not an option because of the loss economically.

Conservative MP Henry Smith also queries the policy, saying:

“People’s circumstances are what they are for a variety of reasons through personal choice and circumstance and I don’t think that is relevant to Government policy to encourage family and marriage in a small way.”

If you require legal advice from a divorce solicitor in Northern Ireland, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 1363.