From 4 October 2021, the use of HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s online service will become mandatory. Divorce applicants and/or their representatives currently have the option to lodge a divorce petition by post or online, although the postal option invariably invites long delays throughout the proceedings.
The Stevens & Bolton family team have been using the quicker online service since the pilot project was launched several years ago. The system encountered some early teething problems but has improved significantly since then. There will now be a three week transition period from 14 September 2021 to 4 October 2021 during which the courts will continue to accept paper divorce petition. Any petitions submitted in hard copy after 4 October 2021 will be returned to the sender.
The mandatory use of the online service is a welcome step. It is much more streamlined and generates a quicker response from the courts, and consequently causes fewer issue for divorcing couples as they go through the process.
It is hoped that the move online will dovetail smoothly with the introduction of ‘"No Fault" divorce in April 2022. Inevitably this will involve further development of the online platform to ensure it is fit for purpose but, by that stage, all family practitioners and divorce applicants should be familiar with the general usage of it.