Resolution briefed about shake-up of divorce courts

More details have emerged about the move towards central divorce centres.

Resolution, the association of family lawyers, has had discussions with HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) about the change in arrangements.

The centres will act as a single access point for issuing divorce petitions and financial remedy applications and it is hoped the more efficient system will reduce the risk of fraud.

The first centres were set up in the North East last November, with those covering Wales going live last month.

Now HMCTS has confirmed details about the timetable for the remainder of the year.

Divorce centres for the North West and Midlands will become operational this month, while the system will arrive in the South West in April.

The new arrangements are expected to take effect in London and the South East in October. Bury St Edmunds has now been confirmed as the chosen venue, although plans for this region remain in development.

A spokesman for Resolution said: “Resolution is liaising with HMCTS on an ongoing basis about the development of the plans for centres which are not yet open.

“HMCTS have indicated that they would be keen to work with us to answer common questions and find solutions to any problems arising as a result of the changes.”

Resolution has said that it can understand the logic behind the new structure, but warned that it was being introduced after several years of “relentless change” in the family justice system.

There has also been some concern that not enough is being done to make members of the public aware of how the new process will work in practice.

From February 23rd, Lincoln family court will no longer accept divorce petitions – they must be sent to the East Midlands Divorce Unit, based at the Nottingham Justice Centre.