From Monday 19th June 2017, divorce applications and financial applications (following a separation) will be separated in the eyes of the court.
The president of the Family Division recently confirmed that following a successful pilot scheme, courts in England & Wales will separate divorce and financial applications to avoid delays to the separation process.
‘We are pleased to say that the pilot has been successful and achieved its aim of introducing a more streamlined process which reduces the delays currently experienced by court users as files are transferred between courts’ *
The aim is for users to have one case number for both applications (divorce/financial applications) but separate files which should reduce the delays currently experienced by users entering the system.
‘Currently if a contested financial application is made the whole divorce proceedings are transferred to a local court to be dealt with. This builds in delay for court users and is resource intensive for HMCTS staff to administer.’ **
Following theses changes the court should see a significant reduction in the number of delays that arose because of the transference of files.
As separate applications, they should be dealt with more efficiently and this should reduce the waiting time and uncertainty that existed within the old system.
A move towards a more streamlined process has long been awaited by those within the Family Law sector. The Family Court system has been very slow to change compared to other sectors within the legal system where advances in technology have been embraced to allow better access for clients.
Whilst this is a positive step in the right direction it is worth noting that Family Law proceedings can be some of the most stressful and life changing of applications for those involved.
As such more should be done to reduce the impact on those individuals who have no choice but to engage with the Family Court system.
No fault divorce and easier access in terms of entry into the system are yet to be implemented and we have a long way to go before we achieve a truly accessible system the serves the individuals it is meant to protect.
** President of Family Division’s letter of 27th April 2017
Carmen Hudson (LLB) is a director and head of legal of operations at DivorceBox.com a online legal service provider specialising in online divorce (e-divorce).
After 15 years in dispute resolution she founded DivorceBox to offer a less intimidating alternative to traditional legal services.