Bishop Peter Eagles has raised concerns that allowing one party to decide that a marriage is over could result in greater inequality.
He was speaking as the Legislative Council gave its first reading to the 2020 Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill.
Bill, designed by Daphne Caine (Garff), is guided through LegCo by Jane Poole-Wilson.
Among other things, it will give couples or individuals the right to request a no-fault divorce within six months.
However, Bishop Eagles said he was concerned that if it became law it would “give the green light” to one party abandoning the other in a marriage without having to give a reason.
He said that although it was “clearly a simple piece of legislation”, the bill could have far-reaching implications and encouraged members to consider the impact, among others, on children. when it returns for its second reading.
“I can see how this could act as a response to the hopes of many who are otherwise desperate in unhappy and loveless marriages,” the bishop said.
“People get married and unfortunately sometimes they separate and even if they started this married life in the context of faith, they may find, a few years later, that there is nothing left that resonates with it. these first vows taken under God.
He said it was a very sad situation for people and noted the impact it had on some people who responded to the public consultation on the bill, including one the called “a living hell of verbal exchanges”. .
And he said that in marriages where couples have separated, where there is no fault, divorce may be the way to go.
But he said he had concerns in cases where one party might not agree to the marriage.
The bishop said: “I can also imagine another kind of sadness just as acute. And it is the sadness of someone who is abandoned without any recourse.
“And that’s very likely to happen because three out of four divorce requests are against a spouse’s will.
“This is just not the case where most divorce proceedings are initiated by the couple, which is the context that this bill assumes.
“If that were the case, the bill would be much less problematic. Instead, divorce proceedings are usually initiated by one person against the will of the other.
“So my concern here is that the proposed legislation would accentuate this inequality rather than reduce it.”
He added that he would not want anyone told that the law would allow one person to abandon the other without having to give a reason.
However, he said he could support the bill as long as “the compassion and humanity he so clearly wants to bring is available not only to one partner in marriage but to both.”
After the debate, Daphne Caine MHK said: “The place to discuss the new legislation is in the branches of Tynwald, so I welcome the bishop’s point of view.
“The point is, some marriages and civil partnerships break down and the current system forces one party to invoke a fault-based reason to allow the couple to divorce more quickly.
“This leads to an adversarial process and an additional emotional and financial impact on the couple and the children.
“All of the research that I have seen and the experience of family attorneys I have spoken to is that this legislation will make filing for divorce a more honest and less confrontational process when one or more both parties came to the conclusion that the marriage is over. . ‘