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Divorce applications go digital


Mark Say Managing Editor

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HMCTS plans to make most of divorce process paperless over the coming months

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has launched its online service for divorce applications and has plans to make the rest of the process digital over the coming months.

It has made the applications service available after a pilot that began in April of last year and reportedly involved the receipt of more than 1,000 petitions and led to 91% of the users saying they were satisfied with the service.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer, said: “Allowing divorce applications to be made online will help make sure we are best supporting people going through an often difficult and painful time.

“More people will have the option of moving from paper based processes to online systems which will cut waste, speed up services which can be safely expedited, and otherwise better fit with modern day life.”

Adam Lennon, divorce service manager at HMCTS, said the next step will be to make other parts of the process available online, including the response from the other spouse to the application and the final certificate of divorces.

However, the pronouncement of the decree nisi by a judge will continue to take place in a courtroom.

Professionals' service

“We are also currently working with legal professionals to develop an online application for them to use which will allow them to submit a petition on behalf of a client online,” he said. “We hope to start testing this with a small group of professional users in Summer 2018.”

He added that HMCTS intends to apply the same approach to all family services over the coming years using some of the same technology.

These changes are part of £1 billion programme to transform the court system. A report published this week by the National Audit Office said it is making progress, but there have been delays in key areas and significant risks remain.

Image by Marc Hatol, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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