Call to separate divorce processes from money disputes

A leading family charity has welcomed “refreshing” comments by Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, calling for divorce process to become completely separated from money disputes.

Sir James’ comments would mean a reduction in pressures on family courts by unlinking “administrative and bureaucratic” divorce work from the more complicated legal arguments about dividing assets following marriage breakdown.

Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said: “It is refreshing and overdue to know that the judiciary is looking more closely at just how much ‘legal’ input is actually needed when a couple divorces.

“The court forms that separating couples are expected to use belong to a bygone age. The arcane language that talks about ‘plaintiffs’, ‘respondents’ and so on is hardly fit for the late 20th century, let alone the 21st.

“It’s true that, as Sir James says, divorce is largely “bureaucratic and administrative”, but this is often the starting point for sending divorcing couples down the legal route, which almost always comes at huge personal cost.

“Couples separate. It’s always been that way. But it’s high time to start demystifying the processes involved so we can help people help themselves through the divorce maze.

“That’s what family mediators have been doing for years. Mediation empowers people to take charge of their affairs and feel in control of the decisions that need to be made, whereas the legal route fosters the sense of helplessness that often accompanies the emotional turmoil of a divorce.”

Sir James Munby made his “unequivocal and emphatic” comments in his 17th View from the President’s Chambers.