Married couples should be able to divorce without recourse to the courts, by simply having their agreement recorded by a notary, according to an expert report on the profession ordered by justice minister Koen Geens. The measure would apply only to couples who consented to the divorce on both sides, and who have no under-age children. Disputes over property would still have to be adjudged by a court.
According to the two experts, each the president of one of the country’s two professional federations, a similar procedure already exists in Spain, where the two parties have to be represented by a lawyer, but the divorce may be pronounced by a notary.
“A lot of people experience a divorce before the court as an ordeal in itself,” said a spokesperson for one of the federations, welcoming the proposal. “Also this will take some of the pressure off of the courts, which the justice system will welcome.”
Having prepared their proposal, the two federations will now embark on a consultation round with their respective members, resulting in an advisory report for Geens in September.
Meanwhile the opposition socialist parties have reacted to another part of the expert report by calling for an end to notary costs in house purchases. “The notaries are saying they want to cost less, but their proposals don’t go far enough,” said party spokesperson Rob Beenders. “For the purchase of a house for €200,000, the costs quickly go up to €4,000,” he said. “That’s simply too much.”