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President calls for the de-linking of divorce and money claims

Realities drive this “unequivocal and emphatic” conclusion

In his 17th View from the President's Chambers Sir James Munby  has called for a "complete de?linking – separation – of divorce and 'money', so that they are started and pursued by completely separate
processes, albeit, of course, that the timeline for ancillary relief is determined by the progress of the divorce". His view on the matter is, he says, unequivocal and emphatic.

He says that the advance towards the digital court, heralded by the progress towards on?line divorce, civil partnership, judicial separation and nullity demands such a severance.

He continues:

"A number of realities drive this conclusion: (1) Only a minority of divorce cases give rise to a money claim. (2) Divorce, as a process, is largely administrative and bureaucratic. Whatever the theory, judicial involvement in the process is limited (see Owens v Owens [2017] EWCA Civ 182) and, unless the petition is defended, involves no face?to?face contact (whether in a courtroom or by visual electronic link) with the parties. In contrast, judicial involvement in money claims is significant, usually involving face?to?face contact, and, even if the case is eventually settled, requiring considered expert judicial approval of the final order. (3) The concentration of divorce cases in a limited number of regional divorce centres, as the prelude to a completely on?line system, is putting the administration of ancillary relief under unnecessary and avoidable strains. (4) Ancillary relief is only one of the various types of financial remedy that are dealt with in family courts; others (see the definition in FPR 2.3) include claims under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, claims under Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA)."

What he calls for is a a system under which (1) there is, formally, legally and procedurally, a complete de?linking – separation – of divorce and money and (2) all money claims as I have described them above are dealt with in accordance with a single set of rules providing, so far as possible, for a common form of application, a common set of forms, a common process and common procedure.

To read the President's 17th View, please click here.

21/5/17