It is likely that in the very near future all divorces will be dealt with online and there are significant moves towards this already. This is against a background of HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) announcing last year that as many as 45% of divorce applications are initially rejected by the Family Court for not being correctly completed.
During 2017 HMCTS launched a pilot scheme which allowed people seeking a divorce to access an online system which gave them prompts and guidance to assist them in completing their application. They were then required to print off the form and send it to the court. This led to less applications being rejected due to errors in completion.
In February of this year the service was extended so that the application is now fully digital to include submitting the form, sending the documents and payment. This has resulted in a further cut in the number of applications being rejected.
The next phase will see the system rolled out to legal representatives.
Whilst sorting out the arrangements for the children and resolving property and financial issues on marriage breakdown can be complicated, the divorce itself is usually straight forward.
The Family Court no longer considers the arrangements for the children as part of the divorce process and the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has made it clear that he wants to see the divorce process separated from the resolution of the property and financial issues.
The new system can only be of benefit to people going through a divorce as it will result in less delay in the process and will therefore hopefully prove to be less stressful. It should also reduce the administrative burden on the Family Court. It makes sense given that many other government services are now available online.
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