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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

TV divorce court leaves a bad taste

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I was alerted the other day to a new programme airing on digital channel, ‘Really’. I was surprised and then appalled to see an entertainment show called Divorce Court. As you might expect, this is an import from the United States where they are a few years ahead of us in terms of TV cameras and other media being allowed into court rooms (whether real or staged). I say ahead of us, but this does not mean I am for it. I just think it is a sad eventuality that will come to the UK sooner or later. Anyway, this show has cameras in a divorce court in America (or a studio designed to look like a court – doesn’t really matter too much either way as the cases and people are real) and broadcasts the warts and all wranglings of estranged couples going through separation. I was dismayed that this now classes as entertainment. It was a cross somewhere between Jeremy Kyle and Judge Judy, which is not a nice place to be. 

I guess couples volunteer to be featured but I cannot see what would possess someone to wash their dirty linen in public unless the overwhelming desire for publicity outweighs any other consideration. And what about the children? I didn’t watch for long – I couldn’t – and didn’t see children directly involved but whether they appear on screen or not, knowing their parents are rowing on telly about who gets the dog or who did what with whom cannot be a nice thing. 

In the UK, children are put at the centre of all family law cases in legal terms, if not always by the actions of the parents. It is clear this is not the case in the US. 

Or am I being too short-sighted here? By offering this window into the world of the divorce court, is it not simply informing people of what may lie ahead for them? The programme website (divorcecourt.com) does at least include a link to divorce resources (though not great ones and more than likely sponsored) and I have been calling for some time for as much information as possible to be made freely available to people considering divorce so they can make informed choices. We also did some work with Legal TV on Sky, which now seems to no longer exist, to help ensure the correct information on family law was put out there. Is that so much different? 

Yes, actually I think it is. Presented in this form, Divorce TV is not beneficial. However, maybe there is some merit in the idea of a regular show featuring real stories of divorce. What do you think?

Andrew Woolley
Divorce solicitor

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