By Gianna Huesch
Controversial family law reforms are planned in the UK, with some suggesting the possibility of a system for online divorces being implemented as early as 2017.
In England and Wales, the majority of divorces are uncontested, meaning neither husband nor wife need to attend court. Instead, under the current system, legal officials process the divorce at a regional court centre.
However under the proposed new system, an online questionnaire could be filled out by couples who have agreed to divorce. The form would answer questions about their marital history, wealth and income and outline arrangements for their children. The planned system would not require even a district judge to attend court to supervise the process.
Proponents of the reforms argue that the benefits of a computerised divorce would include ease of use, accessibility and financial savings. Detractors, however, fear the system would devalue the institution of marriage, if divorce became too easy to obtain.
The UK’s Marriage Foundation is quoted as saying: “Marriage is a serious business. Divorce requires time, thought and deliberate intent; not speed, efficiency and the throwaway ease of an online form. It would be wrong to relegate divorce to little more than a tweet.”
A completely digitised and paperless court of the future is still apparently a way off, with the UK’s Ministry of Justice saying reforms are still in an early stage.