From today, the 13th September 2021, all divorce applications will now be made online.
Following an update to the Family Procedure Rules in August, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have stated all applications for divorce now need to be submitted online using MyHMCTS. The only exceptions will, for the time being at least, be applications for civil partnership dissolution, judicial separation and nullity which can continue to be filed on paper.
MyHMCTS was launched in 2018 and is designed to enable legal representatives to issue, pay for and manage applications in the civil and family courts, and tribunals.
MyHMCTS has already proved popular with family lawyers because it is much more flexible than the historic process. Representatives can submit applications at any time of day and then monitor progress instantly from any device or location.
Since its launch in 2018, and largely because of the obvious restrictions imposed by the COVID pandemic, it has now successfully processed over 150,000 divorce applications.
The stats suggest the system has improved the administration of the divorce process. According to Adam Lennon, Deputy Director of Family at HMCTS:
“Applications are proceeding more smoothly, and we now return fewer than 1% of online applications compared to around 20% of paper applications for legal representatives to amend or provide more information. That means divorcing couples can move forward with their lives faster.”
“Around 70% of all divorce applications are now being made using MyHMCTS and it’s helping us to finalise divorces in an average of 20 weeks compared to around 60 weeks for paper applications.”
Given the increases in speed and efficiency, the system is being viewed as an essential part of the preparation for enabling family lawyers to meet the requirements of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which will come into force on the 6th April 2022.
Bernadette Hoy, one of the partners in Collins & Hoy’s acclaimed family team agrees:
“We’ve been using the online service since it was launched, and I agree it has made the process much quicker and more streamlined for our clients during what has otherwise of course been such a massively disrupted time for us all.”
There will be a formal transitional period from the 14th September 2021 to the 4th October 2021.
During this time paper applications will still be processed but this is only to give lawyers the opportunity to register for access to MyHMCTS and make sure they are full conversant with how to submit divorce applications online.
The good news is that at Collins & Hoy we are already completely up to speed having been a very early adopter of the MyHMCTS so look forward to the next phase of its implementation. In our view anything that makes the divorce process that little bit easier for our clients has to be welcomed.