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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Le Divorce Sans Judge

This is this morning's headline, picked-up by the major news outlets of the world on the occasion of a new French law that takes effect today.  In France, if a couple meets certain administrative requirements when filing for divorce, which place them into a "no contest" or "pro confesso" category, then they can obtain a divorce decree without a judge ever having looked at their case file; just a clerk.

Boy, the French sure know matters of the heart.  Or do they?  Ms. Dominique Bertinotti, the stylish French Minister of Social Affairs, said today that, with one of every two couples eventually getting divorced, "do we have to make it more difficult?"  She said the new law was designed to simplify the divorce process and that, "simplification is a good thing."

Of course, the new French law is being reviled by critics as the latest harbinger of the destruction of marriage as a viable social institution.  Really?  We here at the Law Blogger, fortunately, don't see married couples going away any time soon.

Here in America, and specifically, here in Oakland County, Michigan, an uncontested divorce barely gets on a family court judge's radar.  If the parties to a divorce proceeding agree on all the issues [more common than you would think] most family court judges are unwilling to get in the way of the agreed upon resolution and basically "rubber-stamp" the proposed divorce decree; especially when prepared by a lawyer with all the requisite bells and whistles.

What's more, in the collaborative divorce model favored by our law firm, all the negotiating is done before the family court even acquires jurisdiction over the parties and their children.  The settlement agreement is negotiated first, then executed; only then is the case "officially" filed with the court.  By then, it's a done deal.

So perhaps this is what the French had in mind when they passed this new law.  So long as a couple agrees on the manner in which they desire to extricate themselves from the marital contract, and so long as the arrangement is fair, does the state really need to butt in?

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