Nottingham is to host an online divorce pilot scheme as part of the Government’s plans to modernise the Justice system.
The scheme will be run by the East Midlands Regional Divorce Centre and will allow part of the application for a divorce (form D8) to be filled in using the web.
Currently the scheme, which will be introduced in stages, only covers the initial part of divorce proceedings. The Ministry of Justice has indicated that additional pilot schemes in the future could handle later stages of matrimonial proceedings.
The pilot follows the Government’s consultation paper ‘Transforming our justice system‘ which was published in September of last year. The paper states that the aim of bring divorce proceedings online is ‘removing some of the bureaucracy from often stressful and lengthy proceedings and simplifying cumbersome administrative processes’.
The online system may be used where certain conditions apply – these include:
- The application is filed between 25th Jan 2017 and 28th July 2017.
- The application is for a matrimonial order which is a decree of divorce made under s.1 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
- The application must be started in the family court.
- The parties must be married in England/Wales.
- The original marriage certificate or a certified copy must be available.
Once the applicant has finished completing the form online, an application is generated for the applicant to save or print. They must then file the application at the Court in the same way that current applications are filed (as provided for in the Family procedure rules and practice directions). It is anticipated that for the second stage of the pilot, it will be possible to submit form D8 online.
Other legal matters going online
The pilot is just one of a series of measures for taking more legal matters online. Other areas that are likely to see digitalisation in the near future include:
- Lasting Powers of Attorney – the Office of the Public Guardian is planning to introduce a fully digital process although there are concerns over data protection and fraud.
- Personal tax accounts – HMRC are introducing an online trust register in 2017, partly because of the obligations in the EU’s Fourth Money Laundering Directive and additionally to meet HMRC’s digital and tax transparency strategies.
- Online probate applications – the Ministry of Justice is planning to build a platform that allows the entire probate process to be managed online, from application through to issue of a grant.
- Inheritance tax – HMRC is scanning all post relating to inheritance tax, trusts and pensions and processing it digitally.
- Wills – the Law Commission’s ongoing project on the law of Wills may eventually see us completing digital wills, without the need for a signature. Again there are challenges with such a system – these include concerns over fraud and undue influence.
Contact us for advice
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