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The Registry of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Divorce

It may not have escaped your notice recently that an eminent Family Judge has pronounced himself in favour of transferring the divorce process over from the Courts to a Registry.  The title of this piece is in fact his suggestion for the new name of the registry.  Am I the only one that thinks the aforesaid registry sounds like the title of a bad kitchen sink novel?

I worry that the aforesaid judge, who shall remain nameless (alright it’s Judge Mumby) has not reallyDivorce thought this through.   I mean is it really  going to inject the right note of joie de vivre and optimism at the nuptials of a happy couple who arrive at the Registry  under the banner for Marriages  and Divorce.?  What if the wedding party with their confetti and high hopes arrive at the Registry just as a divorcing couple are making their embittered way out?

You can imagine the exchanges can’t you?  How about the old ones “ I can give you marriage in one sentence – a life sentence”  “Marriage is about learning how to be a  spouse – not the one you are going to be but the one he/she always wanted you to be “.    Or some made to measure ones – “There’s a reason why they’ve just fitted a revolving door in there”, “ After the wedding go straight to where I’ve just been – save yourself the return journey.”, “If you go in there you’ll have to register yourself twice – and here’s a clue – you can’t register your own birth or death.”

We may benefit from a short form divorce system.  Why not simply introduce the old Russian procedure of saying “I divorce thee”  three times in front of a witness – or am I being too flippant?  Hell no, not when we have one of our foremost family lawyers  setting the sort of example above.

The trouble we have is that the higher up the Court ladder you go, the further you get from the day to day work of a jobbing high street lawyer who deals with divorce on a daily basis.  If anyone had cared to ask me – I would have agreed we can afford to streamline the procedures.  I would also have said however that I feel that they need to be intrinsically linked to the Courts that can be  reverted to when a broken marriage can’t be repaired by the two people in it.  It is extraordinarily difficult for those two people to then set about registering their differences and putting their affairs neatly in order.

We are increasingly seeing the mooting of policies in the family world based on the idea that an unhappy couple can put together solutions to their problems with little outside help.  We’re not fooled into thinking the Powers That Be want us all to sit around holding hands and knitting yoghurt.  No -it’s about cost and saving the country from the cost of a judicial system that when run properly – hey, it costs money – who knew?  There is a serious role for the Court and Mediators, with all their wealth of knowledge and power which is to direct people to the right resources and solutions.

Anyway, nobody asked me about my opinion.   They didn’t ask you either, not unless you happen to be one of the elite who have no idea about what happens on the shop-floor (psst – your Lordship,  I’m talking about you).  So I might as well go and put my efforts into a racy little novel – now where’s that pithy title I was looking for?  It’s in here somewhere.