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How long before we can divorce online?

Posted on January 25th 2017

The Ministry of Justice has been working on a tool to allow separating couples to get divorced online for the first time.

It is hoped that a digital divorce system will make proceedings simpler, less stressful and less time-consuming. Ideally, this would also pave the way for the abolition of fault-based divorces. This is something that Resolution has been lobbying for in parliament recently. So how long will it be before this plan becomes a reality?

In their consultation paper in September last year, the Ministry of Justice indicated that work had already begun to allow divorce applications to be made and managed online. They stated that the aim was to take away the bureaucracy of stressful and lengthy proceedings by simplifying the process. Subsequently, a pilot is expected to commence shortly.

However, in the excitement, it is important to remember that no date has been confirmed as to when this online system will be available to the public.

It would appear that it is unlikely that a digitalised divorce process is going to happen anytime soon. Whilst this is very exciting for the family law community we need to be patient and await the necessary modernisation programme. This seems likely to occur step by step. Firstly, the pilot study must take place, then a change to the practice directions governing this area of law, and finally a digital petition will be made available.

Change in this instance is a positive thing. If it makes the divorce process simpler and easier for the general public then it will ultimately be a great step forward. Yet the reality is that these things take time and we will probably not see these changes happening anytime soon.


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