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Thursday, 19 November 1959

Mr STEWART (Lang) .- Whilst I appreciate that this amendment is proposed for a good reason - to preserve the welfare of the children of the first marriage - I notice that paragraph (b) of the proposed new sub-clause reads - that there are such special circumstances that the decree nisi should become absolute notwithstanding that the court is not satisfied that such arrangements have been made.

I was wondering what interpretation could be put upon that provision. Let us consider the case of a man who has had three children by his wife and three children by another woman with whom he has been living. Let us say that the man has an average salary of between £16 and £20 per week. He has two wives and six children to maintain. In an action by the wife for divorce and maintenance would the court, in making financial provision, lean towards the wife and children or towards the family that will become the man's responsibility once the decree has been granted? I cannot help but feel that some of the provisions for the welfare of the children will be severely prejudiced by the fact that the man who obtains the divorce may find it financially impossible to maintain two families. I want to know whether there is anything in this bill which will give precedence to the first wife over the second wife or to the second wife over the first.

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