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recent history of 'divorce fairs'

The very first ever divorce or `break up’ fair was held in Austria. Around 500 people and 20 exhibitors attended the first ever divorce fair at the Vienna Marriott Hotel in October 2007. The fair gave advice on how to organise a post-married life, and to help couples to untie the knot as painlessly as possible.

The two-day fair was held under the motto “New beginning”. The event allowed would-be divorcees to consult lawyers about their rights and seek advice. The divorce rate in Austria hit an all time high of 50% in 2006, with 66% of marriages in Vienna ending in divorce.

The Saturday was reserved for men, and Sunday for women, so couples could avoid awkward encounters and retain a degree of anonymity. There was also a series of lectures on subjects like how divorce affects children and coping as a single parent.

In 2008 there were divorce fairs in Holland and Switzerland, and Paris held its first divorce fair in 2010, as high divorce rates fuel the need for such events.

The first divorce….

A perfect replica of the letter sent by British nobles to Pope Clement VII in 1530 demanding a divorce for Henry VIII was hailed by historians as crucial to understanding why England is a Protestant country when it was unveiled in Rome on 23 June 2009.

“To understand England we need to have this document in mind,” said the historian David Starkey, who was present at the launch in Rome.

When the pope denied Henry VIII the divorce he craved from Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn, the English king broke with Rome.

For a brief history of divorce see this Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/19/divorce-law-history

Our ethos

The culture of the Starting Over Show is one of providing information and inspiration to the visitors, and encouraging them to consider collaborative law and financial mediation as a way forward. Consequently, the need to ‘segregate’ the sexes as in the Austrian event does not occur at SOS, as that would go against the inclusive ethos of the show which also to attracts visitors going through civil partnership breakups.

Unlike the event held in Austria, the Starting Over Show focuses on moving forwards through the process rather than getting stuck in the traditional wrangling over money and property. Breaking up without breaking down is a theme of the SOS events, which is why the shows will not be including some of the exhibitors present at the divorce fair in Austria. No private detectives and DNA testers will be exhibiting at SOS!

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