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Divorce centres: Further progress report

HMCTS explains how the new system is working

We are approaching the anniversary of the very first divorce centres. Those in the North East opened in November 2014. Moreover, given that HMCTS intended that the phased transfer of work to each centre was to be complete by this October, how is the new regime working?

Family law solicitor and arbitrator, Tony Roe, who made a series of FoI requests of the MoJ, and whose research broke the news that Bury St Edmunds (BSE) would be the single divorce centre for the London & the South East, has been speaking to HMCTS again.

Roe said:

"I have been asking about the current position for London and the South East. The bullet-point update from the Court Service makes interesting reading. This is what they told me: 

1. Names and or place of marriage differ from marriage certificate.
2. Omission of reconciliation certificates, in represented cases.

Roe added:

"I happen to know that the Court Service is keeping a watching brief on social media which has apparently informed them where they need to take corrective action. They regard the comments as generally mixed but say that are helpful in providing an overview of practitioner experience.

"It is extremely concerning that up to 240 petitions a week have to be rejected by BSE due to basic errors. I understand that these are not simply divorces filed by litigants in person. They also comprise basic errors made by practitioners. If firms were to adopt a basic double-check mechanism, ensuring that another fee earner looked over the divorce papers before they were filed, a lot of time and money could be saved, with less potential dissatisfaction for clients."