HM Courts & Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’) and the Ministry of Justice (‘MoJ’) have announced that a fully online divorce application process is being tested across England and Wales for the first time.
Launched last year, the pilot initially allowed people seeking a divorce to use an online system which offers prompts and guidance to assist them in completing their application. They would then print off the form and send it to the court. This month HMCTS has extended the service so that the application is now fully digital – submitting the form, sending the relevant documents, and payment.
HMCTS and the MoJ say that 130 online applications were received in the first week, and that the online system has “drastically cut the number of applications being returned because of errors – showing a 90% improvement from paper forms.” They say that it has “already gained positive feedback from people welcoming the simplified, streamlined and easy to understand system which delivers their application instantly – without the worry of it being lost in the post.”
The next stages of the pilot will include making the system available for use by legal representatives.
Susan Acland-Hood, CEO of HMCTS, said:
“We are investing over £1 billion to reform and modernise the justice system. These measures are drastically cutting the number of applications returned because of errors – streamlining the process and ensuring we are best supporting people going through a difficult and often painful time.”
Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution, the association of family lawyers, commented:
“Resolution welcomes the move to a fully digital system, bringing divorce in line with many other government services which have been digitised for some time now. Although the consequences of divorce, such as making arrangements for how parents will care for their children and sorting out the finances, can be complicated, the divorce itself is usually a relatively simple administrative process. Moving is online is a step in the right direction, provided it functions well for the couples, their legal representatives where they have them and anyone else involved. We hope to see positive results from this pilot.”
Family Law Café says: Whilst these are obviously early days, it is good to see that the public appears to be happy with the new system. However, it is no surprise that they like the convenience that an online system provides. That is why we offer our clients a secure online portal to their case file, that they can access whenever and wherever they wish.
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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress.