Marriage is said to be the oldest institution and getting married is a serious contract to enter into with someone. The consequences of the marriage not working are to navigate a divorce, which often can be adversarial, long and complex. However, plans are moving forward to allow divorce to be carried out in a national processing centre, which will pave the way for divorce to become much easier and could be similar to applying for a new passport.
Sir James Munby, one of the country’s most senior judges is looking to take 120,000 divorces out of the court system each year and put them into a number of regional centres across the country in order to complete the paperwork instead of in a court. He says that the process of divorce should be removed from the issues connected to ending a marriage, like the division of assets or the custody of children.
Any divorce which is not contested and where there are no financial claims nor any claims over children will be included in these new plans, which will help to reduce the burden on the court and to make divorce cheaper and easier.
As non-contested divorces are largely administrative, Sir James says that this is a process which could lend itself to being completed in a central processing centre.
Whilst there is general support for the move from elsewhere in the judiciary, with Sir Paul Coleridge who founded the Marriage Foundation which champions stable relationships in marriage, saying that this simplified divorce process is already happening, albeit by a judge in the court system. He also commented that, whilst he supported the changes, there was a real risk that the general public may perceive that divorce was easier as a result.
Of course whilst there are many supporters of making the process of divorce less adversarial and easier for everyone involved, there are people who do not support these ideas. Ex Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has commented that the idea makes a mockery of marriage by making divorce too easy and that the decision to get divorced should be taken with plenty of thought.
We shall wait to see the outcome of these proposals, however any steps which can be taken to make uncontested divorce less acrimonious must be a positive step forward.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
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