Sir James Munby, Britain’s most senior family law judge has set out plans for a “click here for divorce” process. The planned reforms are in their very early stages but could result in significant changes to family law particularly if they are extended to children matters for example obtaining child arrangement orders or proceedings for financial provision following on from divorce.
Sir James Munby’s plans include an all-computerised and paper-less court system. The divorce process would still be the same but it would be entirely online and in theory streamlined. There is a suggestion that it will also be extended to financial applications although it is difficult to see how this could be achieved. Whilst solicitors are becoming more familiar with telephone hearings, it is difficult to see how a judge, the parties and their legal representatives could interact electronically with no attendance in a court room at any point in the proceedings as Sir James Munby suggests.
Merit in an online system for straightforward divorces can be seen but there is concern from some that the reforms devalue the time and thought that is given when entering into a marriage by making it easy to divorce. However, Sir James Munby has insisted that reform will come; time will tell how far the mechanics of family law can be radicalised.