Is Everything Going Digital? Even Divorce?

Barker Son & Isherwood LLP


Phone 01264 353411


There are plans for divorce to go digital from 2017 in the biggest shake-up of divorce law ever. The online system will mean that, currently, neither husband nor wife will be needed in court and in the future neither will the judge.

For many, this type of online divorce system seems like a world away from where we are now but the president of the Family Division of the High Court said that the new process was “a vision of what has to be” and that once it had been achieved “we will have escaped a court system from the world of the late Charles Dickens.”

The online process for divorce will start in early 2017 along with an online system for Will writing. Any couple who wants to get a divorce will provide, through solicitors if instructed, information to the online system about their marriage.

Uncontested divorces, which make up 98% of all divorces, already mean that the husband and wife don’t need to go to court. New regional centres already process the paperwork of uncontested divorces and once all the administration is completed, a judge will put his final approval on it and the divorce will be finalised.

The new process will remove any need for paperwork and the judge will not need to be in court to approve the divorce.

There are many reasons to improve the divorce process, particularly for couples who can agree. It means that divorce will be quicker. This will help couples to move on and start their new lives separately more quickly. It will also save money and mean more efficiency in the service, which can only be a good thing in these times of austerity and ever-decreasing budgets.

The new online system will not change the timelines for applying for a divorce though. Currently, if you want a divorce you have to choose one of the five facts of divorce. They are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion (needs to be for a period of two years)
  • Two years separation by agreement
  • Five years’ separation if one of the parties doesn’t agree with the divorce

For the first two facts, the time to apply for a divorce is one year and the other two are self-explanatory.

Not everyone thinks that online divorce is a good thing. The Marriage Foundation said “Marriage is serious and divorce should take time and thought and not speed and efficiency. It would be wrong to make divorce to no more than a tweet and it should end as it began – in person.”

If you are considering a divorce and you need help and support on the process and your next steps, call our Family Team now on 01264 353411, via email:"> or contact us via our free, no-obligation online enquiry form and we’ll be happy to help.

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