Poor turnout at Belgian’s first divorce fair

23rd June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Interest in the first divorce fair held in the Antwerp municipality of Berchem on Saturday was rather poor.

23 June 2008

BELGIUM – Belgium’s first divorce fair in the Antwerp municipality of Berchem on Saturday was met with less than positive response.

In spite of being a commercially organised fair, there was room for non-profit organisations that offer counselling.

Although divorce rates in Flanders are soaring - on average one in three marriages ends in divorce - the interest for the first fair dedicated to the matter was rather poor.

The few people that did attend said they were there because they wanted to help friends in the situation or simply refused to elaborate on their motives.

The fair’s organisers had met with a lot of criticism in recent days. The Flemish Commissioner for Children’s Rights Ankie Vandekerckhove and Annik Vander Steene of the Agency for General Welfare both expressed their concern, saying that the fair gave people the impression filing for divorce was easy and a simply a matter of procedure.

They were met by Melchior Wathelet, the State Secretary for Family Affairs who spoke in a similar voice on Saturday. According to the State Secretary, divorces are regulated by law and should not be treated lightly.

“You just don’t file for a divorce in the same way you would go shopping,” Wathelet said.

The State Secretary stressed he supported initiatives that bring estranged partners to talk and repeated his plea for a Family Tribunal.

“Such a tribunal is a new concept that should lead to more understanding, harmony as well as a bigger transparency of family law in general and divorce in particular,” Wathelet explained.

In a reaction, the fair’s organisers said they weren’t thrown off their balance by the criticism and announced there will a second edition of the fair next year.

[flandersnews.be / Expatica]

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