Digital divorce pilot decreases time to obtain a divorce, study shows

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A digital divorce application system has lowered the time it takes to obtain a divorce by an average of two months, new research has revealed.

The finding forms part of the Government’s pilot scheme to modernise the divorce process by allowing couples to fill out relevant forms online.

Running since May this year, solicitors (involved in the pilot) are able to “apply for a divorce” by uploading divorce papers digitally to a dedicated judge.

Feedback to the scheme has so far been positive. At present, it can take up to eight months for a judge to sign off on divorce papers and financial orders, but the digital system has been able to wipe months off the time between applying for a divorce and receiving confirmation.

The pilot is split into two stages. It is currently in its first stage of testing, whereby only participant solicitors can apply on behalf of their client, involving uploading their marriage certificate, paying court fees and asking the court for a divorce.

The second stage of testing involves allowing law firms to upload financial orders via the new digital system. It is not yet known when this scheme will go live.

The pilot has been developed to help the Government cope with the growing number of divorce applications lodged with the courts each year.

The latest figures suggest that around 100,000 divorces take place in the UK each year, which the Government hopes can be made simpler and quicker by introducing a new digital system for less complex cases.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) also claims that there has been a 95 per cent drop in the number of applications being returned because of mistakes, compared to traditional paper-based filing.

Commenting on the pilot, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: “Allowing divorce applications to be made online will help make sure we are best supporting people going through an often difficult and painful time.

“More people will have the option of moving from paper-based processes to online systems which will cut waste, speed up services which can be safely expedited, and otherwise better fit with modern day life.”

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