Digital divorce portal becomes mandatory on the 13th September 2021.
What does this mean?
From the 13th September 2021 all divorces will now have to be issued online using HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s digital portal.
Can I still have legal representation?
Yes, of course! Legal representatives can be instructed, and they will need to process the divorce applications through the MyHMCTS online service rather than using a paper form for divorce known as the Form D8.
Will all divorces now be issued in this way?
Not yet! There are exceptions. If the applications are for civil partnership dissolution, judicial separation, or nullity, these will still need to be filed at Bury St Edmunds regional divorce centre on the paper form.
When will all paper applications cease?
HMCTS has said that paper applications will continue until a transitional period to 4th October 2021.
Why are changes being made?
HMCTS are reforming the current system to try and reduce delays. The Law Society Gazette reported that the latest figures show that 70% of applications are completed online, which HMCTS has said has helped divorces to be finalised within an average of 20 weeks compared to 60 weeks for paper applications.
Are there any issues with the new system?
Digital divorce was designed for litigants in person (i.e., individuals that did not have legal representation). This means that if a litigant in person issues a petition online and then wants to instruct a solicitor to deal with the divorce after issue, the divorce will come off the digital system and will proceed on a paper-based system through the Bury St Edmunds Divorce unit.
In financial proceedings, if the respondent starts as a litigant in person, but later is represented, the system cannot presently handle a notice of change. This means that the case would come off the digital system and move to a paper-based process.
It is anticipated these issues will be resolved when HMCTS relaunch the digital platform to deal with no fault divorce under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which is currently scheduled to be effective from the 6th of April 2022.