Financial proceedings to be separated from divorce

Mark Reeves, 12th June, 2017

From 19th June 2017, divorce proceedings will be administratively ‘de-linked’ from financial proceedings across UK courts.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, and Kevin Sadler, Deputy Chief Executive of HM Courts & Tribunals Service, publicly announced the move in a letter to family judges and court staff earlier this week.

It comes after a successful pilot in the south west regional divorce centre in Southampton, which saved court users up to two weeks of delays.

At the moment, if a user makes a contested financial application, such as for ancillary relief, both the divorce and financial proceedings are transferred to a local court.

This can cause weeks of delays as the files are transferred between courts and hearing centres. The pilot separated the two.

The main divorce proceedings stayed in the specialist centre, and the contested financial disputes (with the same case number) went to staff and judiciary at the local hearing centre to work on. While consent applications stayed at the divorce centres.

In his latest View from the President’s Chambers blog, Munby said that, following the pilot, the next step was a ‘formal, legal de-linking’ of divorce and financial disputes with ‘the timeline for ancillary relief determined by the progress of the divorce’:

‘The concentration of divorce cases in a limited number of regional divorce centres … is putting the administration of ancillary relief under unnecessary and avoidable strains.

‘Surely what is called for is a system under which there is, formally, legally and procedurally, a complete de‐linking – separation – of divorce and money, and money claims … are dealt with in accordance with a single set of rules providing, so far as possible, for a common form of application, a common set of forms, a common process and common procedure.’

You can read Munby’s latest blog here.

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