HMCTS online divorce has 2,600 applications
11 June 2018
Courts & Tribunals Judiciary

In his Sir Henry Brroke annual lecture, titled The Age of Reform,  given on 7 June 2018, (see link above) Lord Burnett of Maldon said:

"Significant reforms of the civil and family courts have been tested via pilot schemes, such as the onl ine c ivil m oney c laims pilot – commonly, if inaccurately, referred to as the online court - the probate pilot scheme and the online divorce pilot scheme. These pilots are working well.

First, I mention the online divorce pilot. The pilot has now mov ed to general availability since 1 May. Over 600 applications were received in the first week and a total of 2,600 as of this Monday. In the paper - based world, an uncontested divorce requires a petitioner to fill out a form and file it with the court. Man y people fill them in themselves others pay lawyers to do it for them. They are not difficult but the rejection rate illustrates how lawyers sometimes fail to appreciate that what is our meat and drink proves indigestible for others. 40% of those forms have to be sent back to the applicant. They are rejected because they had not been completed properly. The form checking is done by District Judges or fee paid deputies. It is mind - numbing work which does not call for the skill of a judge or the cost involve d in deploying a judge to such work. But a 40% rejection rate also wastes the time of the petitioners and of H M C T S in processing the forms. The paper form takes a petitioner about an hour to complete. The new online process takes roughly 25 min utes; less than half the time. And it is designed (as with so much we all do online) to prevent a person moving on to the next stage unless the earlier stage has been completed fully and correctly. The rejection rate is now only 0.5%. The benefits all rou nd are enormous. The President of the Family Division has been singing its praises at every turn. It is the shape of things to come".

Divorce & family law solicitor said, "The online version for solicitors is still to be launched". He added, those acting in person should be aware that the divorce itself does not resolve finances which requires a separate application. Moreover, applying for decree absolute before such resolution could ruin certain pension rights".

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