We know that London is the “Divorce Capital of the World.” But is Britain likewise the “sham divorce” capital of Europe? And if so, is this a bad thing? Why do I pose these questions? Consider this extract from the blog of London Divorce Solicitor Marilyn Stowe:
The increase in sham marriages has created an “industry of deceit” in the UK, a committee of MPs has suggested. In a newly published report, the Home Affairs committee examined the issue of sham marriages and their effect on immigration. Sham marriages are entered into for the sole purpose of one spouse gaining entry to the UK. The committee concluded that sham marriages amounted to an industry which is “increasing at an alarming rate”. They also claimed that the government did not truly understand the scale of the problem. The government should train registrars to identify potential sham marriages, the committee said. They also called for a change in the law which would allow registrars to cancel a wedding if they were confident it was a sham.
To begin with, I find this notion of “allowing registrars to cancel a wedding if they were confident it was a sham,” FRIGHTENING. Really, England? How many steps backwards would that be as far as privacy and individual freedoms? I find it unthinkable that in the United States the government could even think of enacting any such legislation. There just is something fundamentally wrong with such a notion. But maybe it’s just me. But I am gobsmacked by this suggestion.
Now, clearly, this article is about sham divorces. But Stowe is talking about the “sham marriage” not the sham divorce. But it is clear for everyone, if the marriage is a sham, then the couple is not going to stay married for the duration. This marriage has an expiration date from its debut and I am guessing that this date coincides with the receipt of immigration papers at which time the foreign born spouse would file for divorce – which in turn becomes part of this “industry of deceit” Stowe gripes about To be sure, these sham unions are happening in other European countries like France, Spain and Italy. But my suspicion is that England is seeing a greater number of foreign born individuals who are so desperate for UK citizenship and papers that they would stoop to a sham marriage to a UK national in order to get papers, than in countries like France and Spain where the desire to immigrate is not so tantalizing for foreigners. Hence the reason I suggest it is the “sham divorce capital of Europe.”
But is this really a problem? Isn’t it a kind of a back handed compliment? The sham marriage/sham divorce industry exists because people love England and want to move there. And right or wrong, this is good for the economy because it creates more jobs for British solicitors who practice in the area of divorce and family law. So, solicitor Stowe, what is so wrong with that?