De-linking of divorce from 'money' to be rolled out nationally
Successful pilot paves way for new approach to proceedings
The administrative de-linking of financial remedy applications from divorce proceedings is to be rolled out nationally next week following a successful pilot, it has been announced.
From Monday 19 June, all courts in England and Wales will benefit from a ‘more streamlined process’, said a letter written jointly by Sir James Munby, the president of the family division, and Kevin Sadler, the deputy chief executive of HM Courts and Tribunal Service.
‘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.’
In April Munby P and Sadler shared their concerns about how financial applications are dealt with in a separate letter and vowed to improve the process.
‘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.
‘[The pilot] will see the administrative de-linking of financial proceedings from divorce so that the main divorce proceedings can remain in the specialist centre and staff and judiciary at the local hearing centres can 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.’
Last month, Munby P used his 17th View to reiterate his support for change as advances are made towards the digital court. ‘Why is it that what is referred to in some places as ancillary relief is still, as the name indicates, part of the divorce process?
‘Has the time not come to bring about a complete de-linking – separation – of divorce and “money”, so that they are started and pursued by completely separate processes, albeit, of course, that the timeline for ancillary relief is determined by the progress of the divorce? My view, which I have been propounding for some time, is an unequivocal and emphatic YES!’
Matthew Rogers is a legal reporter at Solicitors Journal