The legal services of the Co-operative are talking up the resulting outcomes of governmental efforts to help speed up the divorce process for couples, stating that it can see their clients through the entire process within 2 months.
Official stats show that divorce can take, on average, around 54 weeks to completion. Despite this, Co-op Legal Services claims that it can now complete the process in 8 weeks on average.
This effort consists of two ‘pilots.’ One is geared towards drastically reducing the time it takes for the relevant papers to be signed by the court. This is done through allowing said papers to be digitally uploaded by the judge. The second pilot sees the firms themselves being able to upload financial orders through a similar digital process, directly to a judge.
It had been announced earlier in the year that they had crafted an online divorce service, operating at all hours for those couples who wish to begin divorce proceedings as soon as they decide to separate.
Before retiring, family division president, Sir James Munby called the new online divorce service a “triumphant success”. According to HM Courts & Tribunals Service, allowing online divorce applications could potentially free up around 13,000 hours of time usually spent checking petitions through court staff.
Prioritising the System
Despite the perceived promise of these developments, it is all to be taken with a pinch of salt. Divorce remains a complex procedure. Most importantly, it needs to be done right.
A smooth and correct divorce is ultimately more desirable than a quick one. As Marie Proud, our own Director and Head of Family Law says:
“It is impossible to deal with divorce proceedings, from issue of Petition to Decree Absolute, in 8 weeks even in the most straightforward of cases. There is an inbuilt timescale of 6 weeks and 1 day between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute which would then only allow 2 weeks to deal with everything else. Furthermore, if the Government were trying to assist parties to obtain a divorce in the shortest possible time then they should employ more staff and have a better system put in place at the Court.”
The solution to reducing the timescale on divorces is to improve the in-court process and have higher staffing numbers.
These answers are more practical, and they maintain the integrity of a process that sees an often-sensitive procedure done correctly.