// you’re reading...


Divorce hearings: a visit to the Court…

As a pastoral counselor I occasionally make forays into the law-courts of our city, to be an advocate, or simply a friend/encourager, when clients are in trouble.
A recent excursion to the Federal Circuit Court was one of the most interesting – and challenging. The sign on the door read ‘Divorce List Only’. There were about 25-30 divorce hearings scheduled – most of them taking just 2-3 minutes. The first ‘batch’ of hearings involved ‘Divorce Applications’, and then after a half-hour break, the second addressed ‘Joint Divorce Applications’.
To commence each session the clerk banged his whatever-it-is three times and asked us to ‘Please stand and remain standing: the Court is now in session’ whereupon the Registrar entered and sat down.
The clerk went down the list announcing ‘The matter of [name] and [name].’ Unless one of the parties involved – or their legal representative – engaged the Registrar on some matter of concern, a mantra (that’s my term – not a legal one) was then recited which included such phrases as:
* ‘I am satisfied that the applicant has been domiciled in Australia…’
* ‘marriage broken down irretrievably…’
* ‘I am satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the care, welfare, and development of the children…’
(‘Development’ – interesting: I wonder if our legal experts have spelt out what that means?).
* ‘I make an order that the divorce become final in one month’s time.’
About half of the names – and the people in the court – were ‘non-Anglo’, which raises such questions as: do those who’ve relatively recently migrated to our country have a higher incidence of divorce than those born here – or of British ancestry? I must research that sometime.
There were more women than men there, and only one or two divorcing couples. When their name/s were called they moved forward and stood behind a microphone: everything was recorded: this court has no typists. Most did not speak when their turn came, except to acknowledge their name.
Two or three minutes per couple, all quietly efficient. No histrionics. (The only possible anticipation-of-excitement was when the Registrar said at the outset to one person ‘There’ll be no need for you to speak’).
And all so sad.
One person cried, a thirtyish young woman there on her own.
Rowland Croucher
January 2015


Comments are disallowed for this post.

Comments are closed.