There are concerns amongst Family lawyers that the closure of MyHMCTS will result in couples not being able to divorce. The new online system, which replaces the existing portal will come into operation on the 6th of April. This falls in line with the new provisions of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which looks to reform the divorce process and allow couples to petition for a no-fault divorce.

Family lawyers that logged into the online system were greeted with a message stating that due to the upcoming reforms and changes in legislation, the online service will close. The message stated that  "This service will close soon due to changes in divorce legislation. Submit your saved application as soon as possible so they do not get returned. For new applications, consider waiting until the replacement service is launched – otherwise you may have to submit them again."

Naturally, there were a number of concerns amongst divorce practitioners and users of the system, with some calling it 'shambolic’. Not only is there a gap between the closure of the existing system, and the launch of the new portal, but there was no further clarification or guidance provided on what to do in the interim. There has been no guidance on whether paper applications, in urgent cases, will take over to bridge the gap. There is also confusion around acquiring consent orders during this period.

The use of the online portal was mandated from last year, moving wholly towards an online digital-led system, however, there has been no practice direction on alternatives if the system were to fail or become unavailable. In this instance, the courts have pulled the existing system, without any direct replacement in the interim - and as such, this has caused confusion amongst the users.

The Court have produced guidance stating that the existing service will be turned off from 4pm 31st March 2022 before the new system goes live, and the Act comes into force.  with a user guide on what to do in the interim being published ahead of time. We reported back in June 2021 that the implementation date of the Act had been pushed back to 6th  April 2022, allowing HMTCS more time to ensure solid implementation of system changes to the online service.

Need advice on a divorce?

At Holmes Family Law, we understand the breakdown of any relationship is difficult for any couple. Our experienced team is on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to give you the expert divorce advice you need. Call our team on 0191 5009337 or 01670 707338 during office hours or 0191 500 9338 at any other time  As always, Holmes Family Law is also offering a free consultation to victims of domestic abuse. Alternatively, visit Get In Touch to find our range of contact options.

 

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