Language has been simplified for the digital form, allowing payments and evidence to be uploaded from home. More than 1,000 petitions were issued through the system during its test phase, with 91% of users, according to the MoJ, reporting that they were satisfied with the service.
The system allows couples to terminate their marriage for ?550 and upload official documents online.
Sir James Munby, the judge in charge of the high court’s family division, recently described online divorce as a “triumphant success” and “final proof positive that whatever people think, government can do IT [information technology]”.
A refined version of the scheme was rolled out across England and Wales at the beginning of May. The department says there has been a 95% drop in the number of applications being returned because of mistakes.
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.
Welcoming the change as a means of reducing the stress of parting, the 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 better fit with modern life.”
The quickening pace of court modernisation has, however, raised concerns in parts of the legal profession about funding for the ambitious programme which, it was revealed last week, will see 6,500 court and backroom jobs disappearing across England and Wales by 2022.