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Warning over ‘divorce without court’ plan

A family law expert is warning that a top judge’s call to allow couples to divorce without going to court could result in future complications.

Sir James Munby, president of the High Court’s family division, has argued that couples agreeing to divorce should be able to simply visit a registrar to complete the process, rather than go to court.

This would streamline the process and separate the divorce process from that of dividing up assets, making it a less painful process for a couple.

Helen Lucking, partner in the Family team at Napthens solicitors, said: “A divorce is a legal process, dissolving a legally binding contract between two people, and should be treated seriously.

“Divorces are never simple – in so many there are issues relating to children and in most marriages there are issues relating to property to be considered upon separation.

“By simply concentrating on the separation part of the divorce, and not the property or issues relating to children, you are only creating difficulties for yourself in the future.

“A few real-life examples I have come across are where individuals have inherited significant amounts of money after a divorce – or even won the lottery – and their former spouse has legitimately claimed some of it. These are situations that could have been resolved by dealing with financial issues at the time of a divorce.

“I agree that the divorce process could be brought up to date. Currently there are a number of accepted reasons for divorcing, for instance, adultery or unreasonable behaviour, but there isn’t a ‘no fault’ divorce where neither party has wronged the other.

“The law relied on for divorce proceedings is 41 years old, and certainly it could do with updating, by introducing no fault divorce. Even then, divorces should still deal with financial and children issues at the same time as the divorce.”