HMCTS is looking at how to improve financial applications related to divorce, and believes that the process can and should be improved. Currently, if a contested financial application is made, the whole divorce proceedings are transferred to a local court to be dealt with. This builds in delay for court users and is resource-intensive for HMCTS staff to administer.
On 2 May 2017, a different approach is being piloted at the South West Regional Divorce centre in Southampton. The main divorce proceedings will remain in the specialist centre and staff and judiciary at the local hearing centres will be able to work independently on the contested financial proceedings. Consent applications will remain at the divorce centres.
A separate financial remedy file, using the same case number as the divorce proceedings, will be created at the local hearing centre and HMCTS staff will ensure that the dates of any decree nisi or absolute are highlighted on the file. In the main, this is the only information from the divorce suit that is required for the financial proceedings to be dealt with.
All applications will continue to be sent to the Regional Divorce Centre that holds the main divorce proceedings before being sent to local centres.
Working from a financial remedy file without access to the original divorce file is a new and different way of working and HMCTS will be working closely with the judiciary to ensure any issues are resolved during the pilot period.
If the new process works as it is expected to, the pilot will be rolled out to all the courts in England and Wales in June 2017.
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