LONDON — Couples may utter those immortal words “I Do” when they marry in churches and registry offices. But a change in the rules has for the first time enabled estranged couples in England and Wales to untie the marital knot online.
Fully digital divorce applications have been launched in England and Wales since May, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced on Sunday, May 6.
The MoJ says the stress of applying for a divorce could be eased, thanks to the new online service that removes the need for any paper forms.
The online service uses clear, non-technical language, with the whole process able to be completed online, including payment and uploading supporting evidence.
More than 1,000 petitions were issued through the new system during the recent pilot phase, with more than 9 out of every 10 saying they were satisfied with the service.
The MoJ says court staff currently spends 13,000 hours dealing with complex paper divorce forms, but this simpler and less technical online service has already contributed to a 95-percent drop in the number of applications being returned because of mistakes.
Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: “Allowing divorce applications to be made online will help make sure we are best supporting people going through an often difficult and painful time. More people will have the option of moving from paper-based processes to online systems which will cut waste, speed up services which can be safely expedited, and otherwise better fit with modern day life.”
Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said: “The online divorce pilot has been a triumphant success and shows that this must be the way of the future.”
The changes are part of a $1.4-billion program to transform the court system, making it quicker, more accessible, and easier to use for all.
The Courts and Tribunals Service cited the example of divorce applicant Rebecca, who used the new online service and received legal confirmation of her divorce less than 12 weeks later.
Another applicant Elaine Everett, separated for more than two years before applying for her divorce, said: “It was marvelous, pain-free, and less stressful than the paper form, which I tried several years ago to complete but got fed up of it being rejected.” ? PNA/Xinhua