RECENT laws to allow couples to dissolve marriages more quickly would not lead to more divorces, Home Affairs Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung said yesterday. He was replying to Christian groups' concerns that the changes, allowing couples to divorce after just one year without the requirement for them to live apart, would lead to an increase in breakups of young marriages. 'I don't believe that would be the case,' Mr Suen said. 'We are at the same time strengthening the provision of services for marriage counselling.' He said 60 more family caseworkers have been employed by the Social Welfare Department this year, bringing the total to about 500. Hong Kong's divorce rate last year was 7,735, almost double the 4,086 divorces recorded in 1984. Mr Suen said the rise in divorce was an international trend caused by the pressures of modern living. He said marriage counselling and mediation constituted an integral part of the family casework services provided by the Social Services Department. Such services were provided at a total of 62 family services centres throughout the territory. 'To strengthen services for the family, additional family caseworkers were recruited last year and more will be engaged in the current financial year,' he said. Legislation passed last week reduces the time a couple must wait. Currently, if both partners want a divorce, they must wait two years - that will be reduced to one. Previously, couples had to be married for three years before they could divorce. With one party objecting, the waiting time is five years - that will be reduced to two years. The laws will come into effect later this year.