The President and the Chief Executive of HMCTS have published a letter explaining that divorce and financial remedy applications are going to be ‘delinked’ from next week, following a successful pilot in Southampton.
“In our letter dated 27th April 2017 we announced plans to conduct a pilot in the South West Region to administratively de-link financial proceedings from divorce proceedings.
We are pleased to say that the pilot has been successful and achieved its aim of introducing a more streamlined process which reduces the delays currently experienced by court users as files are transferred between courts by up to two weeks.
Feedback from the pilot has been extremely positive and the decision has therefore been made to proceed with national roll out of the new process to all Courts in England and Wales on 19th June 2017.
Throughout the pilot HMCTS have been working closely with single points of contact in each Region to ensure that Divorce centres and local hearing centres are ready for national roll out. Clear guidance has been developed to explain the changes in the administrative process.
We would like to thank all members of HMCTS staff and judiciary involved in the pilot for their positivity and commitment towards making the pilot a success and paving the way for the national roll out of this improved process.”
The 27th April letter explained how the change works in practice. A separate financial remedy file, using the same case number as the divorce proceedings, is created at the local hearing centre and HMCTS staff 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. Entry points for users will not change. All applications will continue to be sent to the Regional Divorce Centre that holds the main divorce proceedings before being sent to local centres. The new system allows the main divorce proceedings to remain in the specialist centre while staff and judiciary at the local hearing centres work independently on the contested financial proceedings.
Very importantly from a mediation perspective, consent applications will remain at the divorce centres.
For a link to both letters, see https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/announcements/administrative-de-linking-of-financial-remedy-applications-from-divorce-proceedings/