What is a Digital Divorce?

If you’re considering, or in the process of, getting a divorce you may have come across digital divorce – otherwise known as the paperless divorce route. You might be wondering what a digital divorce is and what it means for your divorce process. Here’s what you need to know from the experts at Holland Family Law

As of 13 September 2021, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) confirmed that the divorce process would be switched to a purely digital procedure. This means that divorce lawyers representing divorce applicants now have to submit applications online, rather than using the traditional paper D8 form.

HMCTS claimed that a paperless divorce route would make getting divorced a more efficient process, enabling divorces to be finalised faster.

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The impact of digital divorce

The introduction of a digital divorce process has helped to speed things up. In our experience, the digital divorce process has taken as little as 22 weeks. This has the potential to be even quicker if there are no financial matters to sort out.

However, under the new divorce laws  – which came into force on 6 April, 2022 – applicants will have to wait 20 weeks before they can apply for a Conditional Order (formerly a Decree Nisi) after a divorce application has been filed. Applicants can then apply for a Final Order (formerly a Decree Absolute) six weeks after a Conditional Order has been made.

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This means that under the new law, the digital divorce process could take a minimum of 26 weeks.

The benefit of the digital divorce process is that the online service offers complete guidance to assist people with their divorce application – including payment, and uploading supporting evidence for their case for an uncontested divorce.

Meanwhile, the digital divorce process has helped to ease the strain on family courts already faced with huge case backlogs. Under the paper-based system, court staff spend an average of 13,000 hours dealing with complex D8 forms.

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The digital divorce process has already helped to reduce the number of divorce petitions being returned to applicants because of mistakes often made on paper-based forms.

Problems with digital divorce

However, amid upcoming changes to divorce laws – with the introduction of no fault divorce – the digital divorce process has not been without its problems.

It was recently announced that the service will close down a week before changes are made to UK divorce laws under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which comes into force on 6 April, 2022.

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This means that divorce lawyers currently assisting clients with applications will be unable to access the system. Instead, they will have to wait for the implementation of a new system that will incorporate the changes set to take place in April.

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Assurances over the digital divorce process

Despite some initial teething problems, HMCTS has said that once it’s properly integrated in line with the provisions of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, it will significantly lessen the stress of divorcing.

Meanwhile, the digital system will ensure that people are properly supported through what is often an extremely difficult and emotionally painful time in their lives.

Talk to us about digital divorce

If you want to know more about the digital divorce process, reach out to the Holland Family Law team you will find all their contact information in The Hug Directory. Their dedicated team of family and divorce lawyers use the system regularly and can provide the help that you need to navigate your divorce.

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