Couples who wanted a divorce might have had to face a panel of experts before being allowed to end their marriages, if reforms took place.
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, wanted to end ‘quickie’ divorces and force couples to discuss conciliation in a panel interview where the results of any breakup would be examined.
The proposal, which once looked set to be John Major’s flagship reform in the Queen’s autumn speech, was hailed as the biggest shake-up in divorce law for a generation.
But a Portsmouth family support group leader warned the reforms might have been asking too much.
Eileen Jones, the coordinator of Portsmouth Family Concern, said: ‘Whatever the reforms, a divorce is bound to cause pain and leave lasting scars. Divorce is a drastic step.’
Other far-reaching plans, in a white paper drawn up by Lord Mackay, included an end to the quick divorce for adultery or unreasonable behaviour – granted to 75 per cent of applying couples.
Mrs Jones welcomed news that the proposals were designed to protect children who were not prioritised under divorce law.