"She never washes up." "He never washes up." "Stop copying me." "Stop copying me."
Scallywags operating a divorce conveyor belt have been exposed by a judge who noticed that lots of people were giving the exact same reason, word for word, for ending their marriages.
Until 'no-fault-divorce' becomes an option next year, a spouse seeking release from their marriage has to prove that one of five grounds applies.
One of those is 'unreasonable behaviour', and although Mr Justice Moor accepted that "much of the heat has been taken out of the process", the "simple fact of the matter is that the petitioner, at present, still has to prove the unreasonable behaviour of the respondent".
Although many spouses are driven to the brink by the same sorts of things - affairs, snoring, repeated failure to empty the bins - Justice Moor was firm that "each case must, of necessity, be different" and that "different spouses behave in different ways".
As a result, he was sceptical when 28 petitions filed by iDivorces on behalf of 28 different petitioners used absolutely identical wording to describe how their partner "would go out socially on his/her own and basically exclude the petitioner from his/her life thereby making him/her feel very dejected", and "at least a couple of days every week" would "become moody without justification and argumentative".
Justice Moor said he "would not have blinked an eyelid" at the wording ordinarily. "It is, however, quite impossible for all twenty-eight respondents to have behaved in exactly that way."
iDivorces' chastened director, Matthew Eastham, apologised "profusely", and explained that his company’s process was to provide a template of standard divorce wording to a customer, and ask them if anything in it was wrong.
IDivorces’ efficient but unlawful approach had resulted in declarations that were untrue, said The judge. "If I needed to give an example, it would be to say that it would be incredible if all twenty eight respondents ignored the twenty eight petitioners and declined to communicate with them on about two days per week", he said.
Justice Moor called Eastham to say it was over and that he was considering referring iDivorces to the CPS for potentially perverting the course of justice. However, he decided a referral would be "disproportionate" and agreed to take Eastham back after the director apologised in court, insisted it was a "misunderstanding", and promised it would "never happen again".