Online portal for divorce

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is a wonderful hub of information on various topics and areas concerning all four corners of the UK. It has recently reported on a stark rise in the number of opposite-sex couples divorcing in England and Wales. The number of divorces rose by nearly 20% in 2019, the biggest increase since 1972 and the highest number of divorces since 2014. As the country continues to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic it is likely the impact of this will continue to see divorce numbers rise.

HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has looked to increase the level of services and applications which can be made to the Court using its online portal rather than being forced to make paper application. Such advance will at least allow many of those enduring marital breakdown to progress their divorces more quickly and efficiently.

Over the course of the last few years, the HMCTS has developed and piloted an online divorce service. The portal offers the option to initiate divorce proceedings as well as facilitating the relevantly quick approval of financial remedy orders once a couple have agreed upon a financial settlement. Traditionally paper applications for these processes have taken anywhere from six to nine months to complete, whereas those timescales have been halved by the online process.  The online options have increased efficiency and progression of the majority of cases.

The portal provides a central system for the upload and retrieval of documents which is easy to navigate and, for the most part, self-intuitive. Every user is also required to verify their identity with an access code sent to their registered email address by HMCTS thus making it secure, which is especially important as it holds sensitive data.

One downside at the moment is that due to technical issues legal representatives for respondents to divorce petitions are not permitted access to the online portal so a respondent must personally complete the paperwork. It is unlikely this error will be fixed any time soon as the portal will need a complete update and there are no firm plans to carry this out until Autumn 2021 when the changes to the divorce forms come into effect to facilitate no-fault divorce petitions. However, our knowledge of the portal and its requirements means we are able to talk clients through the steps that the respondent must take so they do not feel alone in dealing with the process.

If you are experiencing a relationship breakdown and feel divorce is the right option, our experienced solicitors can provide advice and guide you through the process. Please contact us on 01473 611 211 to set up an initial consultation.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.

Ipswich Divorce Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email