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Divorce could be “Uncoupled” from Financial Disputes says the President

Sir James Munby calls for consideration of separating divorce from adjudication of financial remedies cases

The President's Press briefing on 29 April covered a wide range of topics including:

Sir James suggested that "fault" as the basis for divorce was outmoded and argued that the time had come to separate the process of divorce from division of matrimonial assets; thereby facilitating greater speed and reducing the pain that the divorcing parties often experienced.

Judicial supervision of uncontested divorces, could,, he suggested, be done away with entirely.  Divorcing couples would undertake an administrative process in which they recorded their separation with a "Registrar of births, deaths, marriage and divorces."

The President expressed his concern at the unsatisfactory state of the law governing the rights of cohabitees on relationship breakdown.  This meant that even cohabitees who had lengthy relationships and made many career sacrifices, often had no financial remedy available to them on relationship breakdown which could result in them being "thrown onto the scrapheap."

Sir James made it clear that notwithstanding the Law Commission's Report recommending change to the law, the fact was that governments had failed to act and that as a consequence there would be continued injustice.

The President identified that there was more work to be done in convincing the public of the merits of mediation and that the public's lack of enthusiasm for out of court resolution had led to enormous pressure on the courts.

He indicated that Family judges would need to take a more active role in the management and direction of the cases where parties were representing themselves without the benefit of legal advisors.  A new approach needed to be taken in the new family law landscape where McKenzie friends and other lay advisors were increasingly common.

Further details are reported in The Guardian and The Law Society Gazette.

For an official transcript of the press conference, please click here.