Online divorces

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The new digital platform for divorce applications and consent orders

There are a number of changes happening in family law. Last week I reported on the new no-fault divorce and the impact this will have on the process of divorce. There is also another recent development that is changing the divorce process – the introduction of an online platform for divorce applications and consent orders.

Online divorces were first introduced for members of the public in May 2018 which allowed people to issue their own divorce petitions online.

A pilot scheme for solicitors was then launched in the summer of 2019, enabling certain applications for divorce and consent orders for financial remedy to be issued online. Now both schemes have been rolled out nationally to all firms of solicitors. Please note that the service does not apply to civil partnerships yet.

If a couple wishes to divorce, they still have to prove that their marriage has broken down and cannot be saved and they will still have to base their petition on one of five facts; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation or desertion.

Divorce centres have been struggling over recent years with the volume of work, and it was taking many months for applications to be approved. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has only increased the delay due to reduced numbers of court staff.

The online processes have therefore been of huge benefit in reducing these delays for our clients. Currently, the Divorce Centre at Bury St Edmunds is taking approximately 24 weeks to process applications for Decree Nisi, and 20 weeks to process Consent Orders.

Our experience of the relatively new online platforms has shown us that these timescales can be reduced to a few weeks. Therefore going forward, we will be advocating these services to our client’s, and issuing future divorce petitions and consent order applications online where possible.

For further help and advice concerning court hearings please contact our Family Team on 01733 882800 or email [email protected].

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