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Divorce Without Judges: France Considers New Policy

Natalie Anne KnowltonKatherine Kirk Posted in Honoring Families

France is considering a proposal that would allow divorcing couples who are in agreement on their issues to divorce without appearing before a judge. Nearly half of French marriages end in divorce, and 54 percent of these divorces are uncontested. It is further estimated that parties currently spend an average of only eight minutes before a judge. Rather than potentially delaying the process in these cases, the “divorce by mutual consent” proposal would authorize court clerks to approve divorces. Proponents of the proposal believe that the policy would maximize judicial efficiency, while opponents raise concerns over the enforceability and fairness of agreements reached through such a process. The Honoring Families Initiative has created a model for out-of-court processing of divorce and separation matters, and we are currently turning our attention to studying uncontested processes in state courts and foreign jurisdictions.