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Posted on: 26 May 2018 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors
For married couples considering a divorce, the process may have become far easier as a result of an all-online divorce application recently launched across England and Wales. The scheme was originally piloted last year, and the results have shown enough promise to earn a full rollout.
In this article, we’re looking deeper at the online application process and what it means for those who are thinking about applying for a divorce in England or Wales.
Introduced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the online process has been built to provide a clear, concise and simple way for couples to apply for divorce – without going to the courts. This includes the ability to upload evidence and process payment, while guiding users with jargon-free and easy to understand language.
The changes to the divorce application process is part of a £1 billion programme to overhaul and streamline the court system; moving to a fully digital service makes it more accessible, cuts down on delays and complications and makes it easier for users from the beginning.
The all-online divorce application is available on the government’s website.
During the first week of the testing period, the online system received 130 online applications. The MoJ are also boasting a significant efficiency improvement over paper forms. Many paper applications were commonly returned because of errors, but the online system has apparently cut these instances by 95%. This has also saved time. Court staff spend 13,000 hours diligently checking divorce papers but, with this simplified and far less technical application, this laborious process will be eliminated.
By the end of the testing period, 91% of applicants said they were satisfied with the service, and it has thus been hailed as a huge success.
Divorce petitions are stressful for all parties involved. Traditional applications can take six months to complete, and the very nature of the paper application system can bring out a lot of hostility between couples. It is hoped that the simplicity of the new system, and its ability to integrate better with the modern lifestyle, will take a lot of that stress and anger out of the process.
The MoJ released a case study alongside their announcement, which highlighted the 11.5 week turnaround of an application submitted by ‘Rebecca’ (last name withheld). The online system worked seamlessly, with zero rejections or delays, to deliver legal conformation of the divorce in less than half the time the traditional paper system would take.
With so much praise being showered over the new application process, you might think that a divorce is now as easy as sending an email. But entering into an application without the advice of a trusted divorce lawyer could leave you disadvantaged during proceedings.
The MoJ has stated that the next phase of their online application is to make a version available for solicitors. No details have been announced as of yet, but improving accessibility for legal representatives during the application process can only help couples.
It’s still essential for both partners to seek advice on their rights and their expectations during a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer will have specific insight into proceedings, and will help individuals by giving them the best possible idea on legal consequences of a divorce and how they should move forwards.
Before paying the £550 to submit an online application, seek legal advice to discuss your situation and ensure you are fully prepared to enter the application process.
You may also find the divorce section of our advice centre helpful, especially if you’re in the early stages of your decision or just require some background knowledge.
Goodwins Family Law Solicitors provide fixed fee consultations for initial advice on your divorce and, as experienced divorce lawyers, we work diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family. The level of assistance we provide is comprehensive, and we work with you from the very beginning to make sure you remain fully informed and supported at all times. To find out more or to arrange a consultation with us, contact the Goodwins team today.
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