Healy O'Connor

Divorce without Judges?

family law







Recent news from France is that the country is considering a plan to allow divorces to take place without a Judge. This will simplify a process, allowing for people who mutually wish to divorce to basically complete the process themselves. According to the Social Affairs Minister in France, the plan is currently under consideration. The idea is to simplify matters for people who are agreeing to divorce. It would seem, from a practical point of view, that the application would still be heard in a Court. However,  it would be completed by a Court Clerk who would approve the divorce when spouses agree on all matters. It would seem that the idea comes from recent information confirming that divorcing couples who are consenting spend a very short time on average, sometimes only 8 minutes before a Judge.  It appears from figures released that in France 54% of divorces are currently uncontested.

It is arguable that this new rule may weaken the institution of marriage and possibly make any agreements that are reached, harder to enforce. It should be made clear however, that the divorce would still be a Court Divorce and recognised as that.

In Ireland it is possible for a couple to agree and consent to divorce and deal with the process themselves. However, it would still have to be ruled before a Judge. It would seem to make sense, in situations where a consent Divorce is achievable, that an experienced Registrar or Clerk could grant the Divorce of the Court without the need for a Judge to be there. However, invariably issues do arise  and even with best intentions, sometimes consents need to be clarified, especially where people are representing themselves. It will be interesting to see how this develops in France in a country where 1 in 2 couples will split.


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