Hello digital divorce process: Goodbye Paper Petitions
From 13 September 2021, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) will be changing how divorces are currently dealt with and implementing a digital divorce process. HCMTS have been digitalising the process of divorce and financial remedy proceedings over the last two years, taking many of the previous paper processes to an online portal. Blacks’ Family team welcomes this news.
Currently, divorce petitions have been processed by solicitors via paper applications that are posted to the court. This process has been in place for many years, however, HMCTS will be mandating the digital divorce process. Solicitors will be required to use the digital online service rather than using the paper D8 petition form. This joins the mandate that was introduced in 2020 for financial remedy applications to be made online, which has been a huge success.
The online divorce process became available in January 2020 when it was trialled by over 100 law firms. Its success has meant that it has been rolled out and accessible to all over the last year and is now being made mandatory.
Are there any exceptions?
There are exceptions to using the digital online process service which must continue to be processed via the paper route, and these include civil partnerships, judicial separation, and nullity.
What are the benefits of this decision?
We hope that this mandate will provide clients a better level of service from the courts by modernising the family law system ensuring divorces can be dealt with more swiftly and efficiently than they are at present. Through the online process, we can manage our own accounts, view all of our divorce applications in a single place and monitor the stages of our clients’ applications online, without needing to contact HMCTS for updates. Ideally, it should be a simpler and quick process for our clients enabling them to move on with their lives more quickly.
It also allows Blacks to reduce their paper consumption and supports the introduction of e-bundles in the Courts showing the Courts commitment and endeavours to adopt environmentally friendly processes. As solicitors are encouraged to conduct hearings on a paperless basis, where possible in the financial remedy courts.
Do I need to do anything differently as a client?
No, this will not alter the divorce process from a client’s perspective. Blacks Family team are fully set up online and have been utilising the service since it was first introduced, and this will not alter the level of service for our clients, only improve it.