The Ministry of Justice and HM Courts & Tribunals Service have today published a press release (don’t they know it’s Sunday on a Bank Holiday weekend?) announcing that the online service for divorce petitions was rolled out across England and Wales from 1 May.
The service offers prompts and guidance to assist people in completing their application, and uses clear, non-technical language. The whole process can be completed online, including payment and uploading supporting evidence. More than 1,000 petitions were issued through the new system during the testing phase and 91 per cent of applicants said that they were satisfied with the service.
Evidence has shown that 40 per cent of divorce applications are rejected at the first stage because the application-forms are incomplete or are missing documents. Court staff currently spend 13,000 hours dealing with complex paper divorce forms, but the simpler and less technical online service has already contributed to a 95 per cent drop in the number of applications being returned because of mistakes, when compared with paper forms. Since January, of about 1,100 applications only 0.6 per cent have been rejected.
In a lecture earlier this month, Sir James Munby, the retiring President of the Family Division of the Hight Court, said: “The online divorce pilot has been a triumphant success and shows, to my mind conclusively, that this is – must be the way of the future.”
I have heard it said that August Bank Holiday Monday is a peak day of the year for decisions to start divorce proceedings, so advertising a new online service to petition for divorce more easily on the Sunday before a different bank holiday, strikes me as a possibly a quite clever launch date, for the divorce industry to take advantage of what may well turn out to be a similar peak day for such decisions.