Divorce has moved closer to becoming a paper-free process after the use of a digital process to file divorce forms became mandatory this month. The MyHMCTS online service is part of the government’s £1bn programme to reform court processes, aiming to speed up the process and make it easier and smoother for divorcing clients.
Whilst the digital format for divorce applications has been available for some time, it was previously optional; with a paper form D8 also being in place.
It’s positive to see this move toward digitisation – especially in the current times we are in where there is such a significant backlog in the courts. HMCTS have reported that the online process helps to finalise divorces in an average of 20 weeks compared with around 60 weeks for paper applications. There is also a much smaller margin for errors being made in applications, with fewer than 1% of online applications, compared with around 20% of paper applications.
The change comes just months ahead of 6 April 2022, when provisions under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, including no fault divorce, will be introduced. HM Courts & Tribunals Service have said that it will launch a new divorce platform to deal with no-fault divorce under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act at the time.
There are several stages to the divorce process – of which making the application is just the first. Whilst clients may feel that they are adept at taking this first step themselves, the process can quickly become more complicated thereafter. This is especially the case if disagreements arise between the separating spouses, which so often occurs.
Throughout the process, there are decisions that cannot be reversed once made and those unfamiliar with the process may be unaware of the consequences of their actions.
By working with an experienced divorce lawyer, you can be reassured that your best interests will be represented at all times. Appointing a solicitor at an early stage in the process means you will be made aware of all the things you will need to consider along the way, giving you the time to think about it and decide what outcome you are aiming for in advance, rather than having this sprung upon you down the line.
Whilst the speed and anytime access of the online process are positive aspects and bring divorce into the digital age, they also present potential issues for clients. An online form can be completed at any time of the day or night, which may be following a heated debate or argument. Again, having a lawyer by your side avoids this, allowing for feelings to settle and more rational choices to be made.
Anthony Jones is a Director, Head of Family and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information, please contact him on 01457 761320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org