England’s first divorce centres will cut bureaucracy and won’t affect the institution of marriage claims a leading legal expert.
Simon Leach, Director of Family Law Group said divorce paperwork being completed outside courts is long overdue.
“Some critics in the media have said it is making divorce easier and undermining marriage, but in essence all it is doing is making the bureaucratic process of uncontested marriages more streamlined,” he said.
“The emotional framework that holds people together is really what makes people work to save marriages and makes divorce difficult,” he said. “The red tape involved is just a small part.”
He said that over-the-counter divorces will be available from July at regional centres.
“A huge number will be taken out of the courts, with the documentation being processed by administrative staff but the final decree will still have to be approved by a district judge.
Under the divorce centre system, the government believe the centres are likely to process most of the 120,000 annual divorces in the country, with officials aiming to finalise applications within as little as 48 hours. Currently, most uncontested divorces have taken around 33 weeks.
“In reality uncontested divorce is standardised enough that the paperwork does not need the intervention of judges’ precious time,” he added.
He said that the new system would also be welcomed by couples planning on splitting up in that it avoids attending court.
“Divorce remains a very emotionally draining process for many,” he said. “Taking the process away from the courtroom will be considered welcome by everyone involved.”