France wants to allow divorce by mutual consent

Posted at 8:25 AM, May 17, 2016

PARIS (AP) — The French government plans to allow divorce by mutual consent to proceed without a judge, to simplify and accelerate the process.

Details are to be discussed Tuesday in the lower house of parliament during debate on a bill to modernize the country's justice system.

Family associations, however, have expressed fears that the best interests of children would not be protected enough.

Justice minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said the process would cost about 50 euros ($56) at the notary office. Each spouse would be required to have a lawyer. The divorce would still need to be pronounced by a judge if a child requests to be heard by a magistrate.

Urvoas told France Inter radio on Tuesday he wants judges "to focus on the litigious divorce cases."

France has 66,000 divorces by mutual consent every year already, representing 54 percent of all divorces in 2015, according to the justice minister.

The country's ombudsman Jacques Toubon expressed "strong reservations" to the plan and urged lawmakers to be "especially vigilant" not to weaken children's fundamental rights. He recommended that divorces without a judge be restricted to childless couples or couples with adult children.