Ruling for easier, faster divorce in Belgium

1st February 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 February 2007 The judicial commission plans to reform divorce legislation. The projectwould, if ratified, reduce the importance of the notion of 'fault',thereby rendering divorce easier and faster.

1 February 2007
 
The judicial commission plans to reform divorce legislation. The projectwould, if ratified, reduce the importance of the notion of 'fault',thereby rendering divorce easier and faster.

This is considered by many to be a natural step in the modernisation ofthe process, but critics of the project are already voicing theirconcerns.
 
According to the article 212 of the civil code, spouses must provide forand educate their children, be loyal to and assist each another.
 
As things are, procedures can take years to go through and at timesbecome open wars between the parties as they draw up never-ending listsof irredeemable faults.

The new text encourages mediation between the spouses in order to reducethe length of these often difficult procedures.

It also simplifies legislation by retaining only two types ofprocedures: divorce by mutual consent, which represents 70 percent ofall divorces on average, and an addition: 'irremediable' separation'.

"We have to move away from the idea that divorce can only be pronouncedwhen the decision is mutual, or when fault can be proved," saidPierre-Yves Leleu, a legal expert at Liege's University.

However, critics and some experts worry that the notion of "irremediableseparation" is too vague and may lead to a significant increase inseparations as well as perhaps complicate legal proceedings because itforces a case by case approach.

Should the text be implemented, the judge would have to assess whetherthe separation were irremediable and would then be able to pronounce, ornot, the divorce.

If the couple had been living separately for at least six months andboth parties wished for the divorce, the judge would be able topronounce the divorce immediately. Should the couple not have beenliving apart for at least six months, the couple would be asked to comeback within three months.
 
If one of the spouses asked for a divorce and the other refused thejudge would be able to pronounce a divorce immediately if the couple hadbeen separated for at least a year. If that wasn't the case, the courtwould recall them within six months.
 
The judge would also be able to take a quicker decision based on theirpersonal assessment of the situation.
 
The history of the couple, such as adultery and potential physical ormoral abuse, would be taken into consideration and the judge would beable to pronounce a divorce immediately.
 
Critics of the law expressed concerns that these simplifications are notconsistent with efforts to combat marriages arranged for purely legalreasons more attractive.
 
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Subject: Belgian news, Divorce

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