From Monday 13 September all divorce applications will be processed online via the online portal- MyHMCTS. There will be no further paper applications, save for applications for judicial separation, nullity and civil partnership dissolution which will continue to be filed on paper at the Divorce Centre at Bury St Edmunds.
The platform can be used by litigants in person (those acting without legal representation) as well as lawyers. While the divorce process is mostly an administrative exercise and many spouses start proceedings without the assistance of a lawyer, it remains an important point in separation and it is vital that parties understand the impact of filing a divorce petition online.
It is hoped that the mandated online system will help to avoid the problems of the large backlog in the paper procedure, saving the Courts and parties significant costs and time. Our family team have noticed a marked difference between the time it has taken to process applications via the portal compared to the paper system. The online system is not without its faults and hiccups but is undeniably a step in the right direction.
The new ‘no-fault’ divorce provisions under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 do not come into force until April 2022. In the interim, the existing law requires the breakdown of the marriage to be proved on one of five facts: (1) adultery of the other party; (2) behaviour of the other party; (3) 2 years separation with consent of both parties; (4) 5 years separation without consent of other party; or (5) 2 years desertion by other party.
If you are considering separation and/or filing for divorce and have any questions, please contact our family team.