In the week following the introduction of reforms designed to make the separation process less acrimonious – HM Courts & Tribunals Service has noted a 50% rise on the weekly average, having received 3,000 divorce applications in the week alone.
Last Wednesday, a system that introduced provisions under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into action, meaning it is no longer necessary for divorcing couples to assign blame for the breakdown of their marriage.
Official statistics reveal that last year, a total of 107,724 divorce petitions were made – which amounts to 2,071 applications per week.
On application costs, attendees were informed that applicants do not have to pay the £593 fee twice if they are unable to progress with a joint application and thereupon have to submit a single application. When asked about joint applicants hoping to split payment, HMCTS confirmed that the system can only accept one payment in full.
A partner at London firm Fletcher Day, Julius Brookman, commented: ‘The introduction of no-fault divorce has led to a run of enquiries at this firm and something of a collective sigh of relief. I had a petition we had to file urgently where the parties were deeply involved in disputing particulars and they now wish to file a new petition which takes out their major initial grudges and gripes. Likewise, I have had existing clients saying they would like to file now so that they do not have to spend time haggling over apparently anodyne parts of the petition. The new terminology from the courts also offers some clarity to parties who has previously been perplexed by the old use of words.’
HMCTS reported that practitioners who may experience error messages whilst using the portal should contact the courts and tribunals service centre at [email protected] or call 0300 303 0642. A webchat service is also available.
A spokesperson stated: ‘Our new digital system is designed to be robust and create a better experience for users. It has been running smoothly since it launched on 6 April.’