Earlier in April 2018, Baroness Hale attended a family law specialist’s conference in Bristol, to discuss the issues surrounding the divorce law reform including online divorce. Baroness Hale is a well-known judicial figure, who has been a supporter of divorce law reform including the concept of ‘no-blame’ divorces since the 1990’s.
Whilst Baroness Hale has many judicial peers advocating for the same reform, the question calls as to whether her approach to ‘no-blame’ divorces, including online divorce, is a step too far, which may only serve to dampen the sanctity of marriage.
Baroness Hale states that there should be a ‘one stop shop’ for family matters, where instead of filing under one of the five reasons as to why the marriage has irrevocably broken down, the petitioning party provides their position as to why they want to divorce and the relief they intend to seek. Baroness Hale further comments that the process of obtaining this ‘one-stop shop’ would preferably be available to the public online via an online form.
Given the society we currently live in, ‘no-blame’ divorces are attractive as it prevents the need for the petitioning party to opt for a ‘quickie’ divorce under one of the grounds for blame, as the separation grounds are often unattractive. However, by making applications easily accessible online, it is envisaged that critics of the ‘no-blame’ divorce will argue that it won’t even make couples blink twice if divorce becomes too commercialised and readily available.
As marriage is meant to be an important relationship which couples enter into, with the hope behind it being for eternity, is the concept of having a divorce ‘one-stop shop’ available online going too far?
In Jersey, the discussion for Jersey divorce reform has been commented on by many, with a report being produced by the Law Commission in 2015 advocating the need for the overhaul of the archaic law. Should England & Wales proceed with Baroness Hale’s approach for ‘no-blame’, it will be interesting to see whether the States of Jersey members see any merit in the online divorce method, when considering the need and implementation of the divorce law reform.
Author: Stephanie Devine
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