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Senior Judge Says Divorce Could be Online within a Few Years

One the UK's most senior family law judges has advised that major changes could be coming to the ways divorces are conducted, with technology continuing to play a much larger role in proceedings.

Sir James Munby is the President of the Family Division and was giving a speech at the annual Family Law Bar Association dinner earlier this month. He said that it could be possible to have an entirely 'entirely digitised and paperless [family] court' within the next four years.

Sir Munby also said that divorce could be one of the first areas to see such technological improvements and that some proceedings will be conducted almost entirely on-line, even down to and including the final hearing. The judge, who will not need to be in a courtroom, will interact electronically with the parties and, if they have them, their legal representatives.

Although in many divorces the separating couple will be able to agree about important matters outside of the courtroom, some divorces will be highly complex and there will be many points of contention for the court to settle. Sir Munby commented that such difficult cases would still be handled by the court though probably only for the final hearing and any significant interim hearings. The President of the Family Law Bar Association also pointed to the increased use of technology in the court system. Many courts are already embracing paperless systems. In the future, there may be the introduction of video links so that the judge does not even need to be in the same room as the divorcing couple. Sir Munby argues that these changes will help to save public money. The modernisation could also make the court system much more user-friendly and efficient.

Opposition to the Changes

However, there are opponents to the increasing digitisation of the legal sector.

Many critics point to the last years Form E scandal. Thousands of couples had relied on a government online form to calculate their divorce financial settlements. This form was found to be excluding some figures from the calculation and, therefore, coming to an incorrect number. The error has since been corrected and any couples who used the form were advised to contact their solicitor.

Although Sir James Munby was commenting on the English courts, it is likely that Scottish courts will also continue to see an increasing utilisation of technology.

Contact Edinburgh Divorce Lawyers

Family Law Edinburgh is a team of friendly and trusted family lawyers who are highly experienced in divorce and separation. Our solicitors handle every enquiry with confidentiality so contact us today to find out how we can help you. You can contact us by filling in our online enquiry form.

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