The Family Courts – Under Funded, Under Staffed and Under Pressure
August 26, 2020
It is no secret that the justice system in this county is underfunded, under staffed and under pressure.
In 2015 the decision was made to create 11 separate divorce units to take the work away from individual courts. Yet, in 2020, only a small handful of those units remain. The East Midlands divorce unit was the latest one to close earlier this year. This means that we no longer have a local divorce unit.
Our cases are currently being sent to either Bury St Edmunds or Liverpool. In reality, this does not make any difference to our clients. Simple divorces are largely dealt with on paper and if a hearing is required, the matter is transferred back to a local court. However, the additional pressure that the remaining divorce units are being put under is undoubtedly increasing the wait times, meaning that divorces are taking longer to get through the system.
There may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel with the online divorce system. We have recently signed up to trial the pilot system and we can now submit divorce petitions and some other applications online, to be dealt with by an online divorce team.
Our experience with the system so far has been a positive one. We submitted a Consent Order online and received a response in just over 2 weeks. Had we sent the same application on paper, we would probably have had to wait closer to 2 months. This is a huge improvement which will benefit everyone involved.
However, the online system is still in its early days and it does not come without its own problems. Whilst Solicitors for a Petitioner can use the online system, solicitors for a Respondent cannot. There are ways around that issue but it does seems somewhat illogical for only half a system to be rolled out.
Regardless of the trials and tribulations of the court system, the team here at John Hooper & Co continue to do our best to progress matters and turn things around as quickly as possible, in the best interests of our clients.