Co-op Legal Services has joined two new pilot schemes being run by the UK Government to modernise and streamline the divorce process. The schemes see the submission of divorce paperwork digitised, making the process more efficient and reducing the time it takes to finalise a divorce from 12 months to just 12 weeks.
How Does the Pilot Scheme Work for Divorce?
Currently, in order to get a divorce granted by the Court there is a lot of back and forth, with a number of documents being posted between the Court, the petitioner (or their Solicitor) and the respondent (or their Solicitor). This inevitably takes time. If we are acting on behalf of the petitioner, then the current process for our Divorce Solicitors is as follows:
- We send the divorce petition to the Court
- The Court issue the divorce petition, allocating a case reference number and sending the petition on to the respondent
- The respondent sends an Acknowledgement of Service back to the Court
- The Court send the Acknowledgement of Service on to us
- We apply for the Decree Nisi
- Six weeks after receiving the Decree Nisi, we apply for the Decree Absolute, which will legally end the marriage.
Steps 1 and 2 would previously take anything between 2-4 months, depending on which Court was processing the divorce and how busy they were.
Under the new pilot scheme, we can simply upload the divorce petition electronically, and this will then be issued by the Court within 3-4 days. Steps 5 and 6 will remain largely unchanged, as it will still be necessary to wait 6 weeks after receiving the Decree Nisi before the Decree Absolute can be applied for.
This means that the total time taken to process the divorce under the pilot scheme takes a total of around 12 weeks (depending on the Court) whereas previously this could take anywhere from 6-9 months.
How Does the Pilot Scheme Work for Financial Orders?
To formally end all financial commitments between the couple, it's necessary to put a Financial Order in place after the Decree Absolute has been received. Previously, the process for this would be as follows:
- We draft the Financial Order and post this to the Court
- The Court approves the Order, seals it and sends it back to us
Depending on which Court this was sent to, the Financial Order could take anywhere up to three months to be processed, sealed and returned. In some cases it could take even longer.
Under the new pilot scheme, the Financial Order can be submitted electronically as soon as the Decree Nisi has been received (while the Decree Absolute is still being awaited). The sealed order is then be received electronically in an average of just 3 days after being submitted to the Court.
Speeding up the Divorce Process
Since the scheme launched, our Divorce Solicitors have seen a significant reduction in the time taken to process a divorce from start to finish. This will make a huge difference to divorcing couples, making what can often be a stressful and difficult process far less drawn out.
According to data from the Office of National Statistics, 100,000 divorces take place in the UK each year. If these two pilot schemes prove successful and are rolled out nationally, then the streamlined divorce process could have a huge impact on the lives of those 200,000 people per year that are going through a divorce.
Tracey Moloney, Head of Family Law, explained:
"By being part of the pilot scheme we are able to improve upon our service to our clients. Turning a divorce around in 12 weeks is a massive improvement upon process and will reduce the stress and anxiety experienced by clients who are subjected to lengthy waiting times while their applications are being processed."
To speak with a Divorce Lawyer call 03306069626 or contact us online and we will call you.