Couples face up to year-long wait for ‘streamlined’ divorces

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Brighton & Hove Law have found that the delays in Bury are extremely prejudicial to clients and asked Bury for details on how complaints can be lodged. A solicitor at this firm recently telephoned the Court at Bury to ascertain timescales for a decree nisi application to be dealt with only to be told that the application received in the first week of May had not actually been processed and even gone to a Judge until the 3rd week in June and the Court would only chase the application once it had been with the Judge for 2 months!

These were the self imposed timescales that the Court is now working to. It is extremely frustrating as the delay and inefficiency snowballs and creates further work for everyone as practitioners and clients end up writing numerous letters and making numerous calls to chase applications so the paperwork overall for the Court is actually increased.  If you want to divorce or are considering divorcing your spouse the current timescales have to be factored into the decision making.

A law firm chief has highlighted the worrying extent of delays faced by divorce practitioners – backed by official quarterly figures, which show that couples can face up to 51 weeks to officially split. This is despite the introduction of online applications and centralised working.

According to the Ministry of Justice’s latest family statistics, divorce petitions were down by 4% between January and March this year, compared to the same period last year. However, those granted a decree nisi this year waited, on average, 26.7 weeks. The average time from petition to decree absolute was 51.3 weeks.

Tony Roe, principal of Reading firm Tony Roe Solicitors, told the Gazette that divorcing couples need closure. ‘Moving on with their lives is crucial. Moreover, the longer it takes to get decree nisi, the later any court can impose or approve a settlement,’ he added. A decree nisi must be in place to empower the court to make a financial order.

Roe was compelled to write to HMCTS chief executive Susan Acland-Hood this month over delays his clients were facing with the Bury St Edmunds regional divorce centre, which covers London and the South East.

An information bulletin posted by HMCTS on 19 June to help practitioners assess how long it will take for the centre to process work stated that answers to applications received on 30 May would be processed by the administrative team in approximately 59 days.

Read the full story at the Law Society Gazette’s website.

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