Resolution comments on HMCTS’s digital divorce system

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31 January 2018 – Speaking in response to HMCTS’s announcement of testing a fully digital divorce system (30 Jan), Resolution Chair Nigel Shepherd said:

“Resolution welcomes the move to a fully digital system, bringing divorce in line with many other government services which have been digitised for some time now.

Although the consequences of divorce, such as making arrangements for how parents will care for their children and sorting out the finances, can be complicated, the divorce itself is usually a relatively simple administrative process. Moving is online is a step in the right direction, provided it functions well for the couples, their legal representatives where they have them and anyone else involved. We hope to see positive results from this pilot.

However, the costs savings that will undoubtedly result from an online process highlights further the issue of the high court fee for filing for divorce, which rose 35% to £550 in 2016. That is a very significant figure not justified by the actual cost to government.

At the same time, the government should act to introduce no fault divorce as a priority. Current law pushes couples into citing fault, fostering feelings of injustice and recrimination, increasing stress and anxiety and eroding parents’ ability to focus constructively on future co-parenting. Apart from the obvious benefits to families and society of reducing acrimony on divorce, a no fault process will be far simpler to administer in the new digital age.”