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Famously outspoken family judge Sir James Munby has berated the government over legal aid restrictions which left a divorced couple labelled as bigamists through no fault of their own.

The retired family division president, sitting as a High Court judge in M v P (2019), said the state had ‘declined all responsibility’ for helping the parties despite ultimately landing them in this predicament.

The couple had assumed their divorce was finalised by decree absolute in 2014 and each went on to marry again. But the process had been subject to fundamental errors by district judges who granted the decrees despite an administrative mistake on the petition which stated the couple had lived apart for two years. In fact they had actually only been married for 22 months, and the court was now required to decide whether the decree absolute was void or voidable.

Munby said ‘serious mistakes’ were made by the court and by judges in not spotting and rectifying the original error, which was caused by one of the parties ticking the wrong box in the petition. 

Full Story: Law Gazette

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