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Senior Judge Says Online Divorce Will be Available by 2017

One of the UK’s most senior family law judges has said that couples may be able to complete their divorces online by 2017.

Sir James Munby is president of the Family Division and was giving a speech at the Family Law Association Annual Dinner. He said that 'In future, proceedings will be issued online. The applicant - and remember, the applicant will increasingly be a lay person bereft of professional assistance - will not fill in an online application form, but an online questionnaire capturing all the relevant information while at the same time being much more user-friendly.’

The courts have already embraced some technological developments such as online filing systems, but Sir James Munby envisioned the legal system becoming much more digital in the future.

Improved video calling systems could allow divorce proceedings to go ahead without the need for the judge to be in the same room as the separating couple. The traditional gathering of judges, lawyers and the couple in the courtroom may only be necessary for the most complex divorce cases. Sir Munby stated that most divorces could be conducted online and would be able to go forward with every little court involvement.

The President of the Family Division argued that these changes will help to create a faster and more cost-efficient court system. By modernising the courts, they could become more user-friendly.

However, many people argue that we should exercise caution when attempting to modernise the family law courts. By moving divorce online it could become even more difficult for the most disadvantaged to gain access to divorce as internet access, in addition to a computer or smart phone would be necessary.

There are also many danger attached to removing the involvement of solicitors from the process. When legal guidance and support is not available, people may end up with a settlement that is unfair because they could not be advised otherwise.
The possibility of technology going wrong was highlighted by the recent government divorce form error. Many couples who were separating without the support of a lawyer used Form E to calculate their financial settlement. However, there was a mistake with the software of the form and some figures were not factored into the calculation. This meant that the final calculation was incorrect, and anyone who relied on the form may have been awarded an unfair settlement. Although the form has now been corrected, it has illustrated the potential dangers that come with the increased use of digital technology.

Contact Family Law Liverpool

If you are divorcing or separating from your partner, contact Family Law Liverpool today to discuss your situation and find out how we can help you. We are a team of friendly and welcoming local lawyers who have many years’ experience in supporting clients through divorce. You can contact us by completing our online enquiry form.

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