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The Practicalities Of An Online Divorce

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In a recent article published by the Guardian, one of the most senior family Judges in England and Wales, Sir James Munby proposed that the divorce process should become an online process to avoid the administrative delay of processing divorce applications by post. This will undoubtedly provide for a quicker method of processing divorce applications as it takes civil servants at Bury St Edmunds (divorce centre for London and the South East) a purported three hours to open all the post it receives on a daily basis. However, those of you who have already filed your divorce applications with the Court will be aware that you are required to file your original Marriage Certificate or a certified copy of your Marriage Certificate along with your application. Will this requirement be met using an electronic based system? If you are still required to post your original Marriage Certificate to the Court, the online system will surely become counter-intuitive.

The method of service is a partial reason for delay of processing applications but not the only reason. The sheer volume of applications also contributes to the delay. For example, last year, the Family Court at Bury St Edmunds received between 13,000-18,000 divorce applications. This divorce centre is only one out of eleven around the country. Moving to an online system will surely increase the daily volume of applications and lead to a back-log as applications will be submitted by the click of a button. The obvious solution would be to employ more civil servants. However, more civil servants will mean more computer equipment will be required to process the online applications, which will consequently lead to funding issues.

Whilst on the face of it, moving the divorce process online is an attractive and modernised approach to divorce compared to the current dated process, it presents problems of its own, which will need to be dealt with prior to any conversion taking place.