Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, recently announced that he envisages an entire digitalisation of some court processes. He gave the procedure involved in obtaining a divorce as one of a number of examples which could move online fully.
This is not the first we have heard of family law procedures moving online. My colleague Sarah French wrote in November on the possibility of divorces moving online in Northern Ireland, and the pros and cons of these plans if they were put into place. Furthermore, I wrote a blog post in December about Relate's announcement that it was trialling a new online dispute resolution platform to facilitate settlement of matters between separating parties.
It seems that the movement towards digitalisation of legal procedures may therefore be inevitable, with Sir James suggesting that the move to an online divorce system (as well as an online probate system) could be piloted as soon as early 2017, with other family law proceedings to follow suit. He outlined plans for family litigation to eventually be conducted completely online, with judges to conduct virtual hearings and to liaise with parties electronically.
However, whilst the anticipated changes are part of an effort "to improve, to streamline, and to simplify the system", and examples of particular areas requiring reform were given (for example, as to the number of Court forms), exactly what Sir James envisages for the system on a practical level, we are not yet sure. In addition, Sir James went on to say that, given the sheer scale of changes that would be needed, there is still a way to go in achieving the digitalisation of the Family Court system as a whole.
So, for now at least, it looks as though the current paper-based system of issuing divorce and other family proceedings will continue to stand. The Family team at Blake Morgan is experienced in dealing with all family matters through this paper-based system and we are additionally happy to work with and support clients using the newly-emerging online tools, to obtain their divorce. We are able to advise clients remotely, for example through video conferencing, in order to ensure that the best outcome can be reached for clients in every instance.
Please contact us for further information. We are pleased to offer a 50% discount to new clients for an initial consultation in relation to divorce proceedings.