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President of the Family Division: registrars should handle divorce

Yes, the President of the Family Division is back in the news again. This time Sir James Munby has called for registrars to handle uncontested divorce cases.

Speaking at a news conference, he said that divorces ‘by consent’ had existed for decades and called for the introduction in England and Wales of a ‘no fault’ system, in which such separations by mutual agreement could be handled by registrars rather than judges. Such divorces were “essentially a bureaucratic, administrative process, albeit one conducted by a district judge”.

Such systems already exist, he said, in other countries for marriages without children. “It seems to work,” the President claimed.

Both BBC News and Radio 5 Live have covered his comments today and asked for my views on the President’s speech. And I was happy to give them.

Divorce is the dissolution of a legally binding contract of marriage. It forms the basis on which finances and child related issues are legally regulated following the breakdown of a marriage. As such I believe it should remain a legal process.

If it is removed from judicial supervision it could also be open to abuse.

I am in favour of being able to obtain no fault divorce, perhaps by a shorter period of separation than the current two years but equally I do understand from many years of experience with devastated individuals why many people would wish to retain fault as another reason for the irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

To read the full BBC article, please click here.


The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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