Issue of Divorce Petitions etc – All Change

In order to start a divorce a Petition (essentially the application) needs to be issued at Court.

Previously your divorce Petition would start in your local County Court but no longer.

The requirement to issue divorce Petitions at a Regional Divorce Centre, rather than in the local County Court, is now fully implemented. We are, however, in the early stages of the scheme and teething issues are yet to be resolved. For couples in Dorset all divorce Petitions will be issued from the Regional Divorce Centre in Southampton and given a divorce file reference that will start with the prefix “SO”.

The scrutiny of the Petition when filed, and ensuring compliance with the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Family Procedure Rules 2010 is increasingly administrative with a judge involved only if there is an issue to be determined or a query to be answered.

If a Court hearing is required before the District Judge to deal with any issue on the Petition or perhaps costs of the proceedings, then the hearing will still take place locally.

All applications for a Financial Remedy Order will, in the first instance, be issued in the Regional Divorce Centre with consent applications and Court hearing dates distributed locally.

Although there is a drive for efficiency, it is clear that the greatest consideration is the perceived saving of costs and overheads.

Early indications are that unfortunately there is now some delay in the issue and progression of applications for a divorce and there is a distinct inability for interaction with the Court staff.

Applications involving children are currently not affected and they continue to be issued and administered locally.