Sir James Munby, President of the Family Law Division has stirred up debate in the media by advocating the introduction of new “no-fault” divorces which wouldn’t be dealt with by the courts, but rather by Registrars as an administrative exercise similar to the registration of births, marriages and deaths.
Unusually perhaps for a member of the legal profession, I would cautiously welcome Sir James’ suggested reforms for people who want to divorce by mutual consent. By taking uncontested divorces out of the court system, it could be a faster and cheaper way to bring marriages to an end and may avoid some of the acrimony that sometimes results from court proceedings.
Sir James’ suggestions do not appear to propose changes to the current rules which provide for compulsory mediation in divorces involving financial or child related issues. In those circumstances, for people without the benefit of the right legal advice, there is a danger that the dominant partner in the marriage could try to manipulate the mediation process to their own advantage.
One of the stated aims of the Family team at Birchall Blackburn Law is to try and reach a negotiated settlement and to defuse conflict wherever possible, to keep costs down and preserve lines of communication, especially in cases involving children.
We will continue to adapt to the rapidly evolving legal services market and readers will note from our Manchester page that the firm is helping to pioneer implementation of the latest reforms with our membership of the Manchester Panel of lawyersupportedmediation.com.