Online divorce service set for expansion

family law

Couples throughout England and Wales may soon be able to divorce online, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals service (HMCTS) has announced.

This scheme will be included as part of a £1 billion investment from the government to reform the justice system.

Currently, all applications for divorce must be done on paper and sent in to the courts. With the rise in the number of people who do so without a lawyer’s help, as many as 40 per cent fill in the forms incorrectly. To combat this problem, the online divorce scheme includes “smart forms” that look very different from the paper versions. These forms are tailored to someone’s specific circumstances and adapt the questions based on their answers.

A spokeswoman for HMCTS claimed the online system would “simplify the process for divorce applicants and help progress applications quickly”.

It was originally launched as a pilot at the East Midlands Divorce Centre in Nottingham, but has since been expanded to include two other sites. This pilot was “extremely successful” as the new system reportedly received a lot of positive feedback from those who used it. As a result, HMCTS has announced plans to expand it further.

Ministers hope that the introduction of online divorce will save as much as £250 million through a reduction of paperwork and processing.

Photo by Andrew_Writer via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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spinner - November 1, 2017 at 5:38pm

The more of the documentation that is put online the better the training set will be for legal AI’s. A team of lawyers with no background in computer science and with limited access to computing resources managed to build an AI that had a case outcome prediction rate of 86.6% for PPI cases vs 66.3% for human lawyers. If an AI was able to predict the outcome of your case above 95% say, personally I would accept that and offer to settle. Maybe in future if one side decides to pursue legal action even though an independent legal AI has given a verdict they could have a costs order made against them if they fail.

Andrew - March 12, 2018 at 8:45pm

Will the saving lead to court fees being cut?
Is that a pig flying past my window?
Call me old fashioned: but I don’t think you should be able to get a divorce without an original certified marriage certificate on watermarked paper. Nor, while we are about it, a probate without an original certified death certificate on watermarked paper. Not a black and white scanned copy from a domestic inkjet printer. The scope for fraud is massive and obvious.

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