The below article is an excerpt from the Law Gazette Magazine. You can view the original here.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service has received 3,000 divorce applications in the week following the introduction of reforms designed to make the separation process less acrimonious – a 50% rise on the weekly average.
A system introducing provisions under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into force last Wednesday, meaning divorcing couples are no longer required to assign blame for the breakdown of their marriage.
Taking questions during a webinar for legal professionals on the new divorce service on Tuesday, HMCTS officials revealed that they have received around 3,000 applications under the new regime.
Official statistics show that last year, a total of 107,724 divorce petitions were filed – which works out at 2,071 applications per week.
On application costs, attendees were told that applicants do not have to pay the £593 fee twice if they are unable to progress with a joint application and subsequently have to submit a sole application. Asked about joint applicants wishing to split payment, HMCTS said the system can only accept one payment in full.
Early feedback on the new system appears to be mostly positive.
HMCTS told the Gazette that practitioners who experience error messages should contact the courts and tribunals service centre at email@example.com or call 0300 303 0642. A webchat service is also available.
A spokesperson for HMCTS said: ‘Our new digital system is designed to be robust and create a better experience for users. It has been running smoothly since it launched on 6 April.